What is appetite loss from cancer treatment?

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What happens if you can't eat enough during cancer treatment?

If you have a hard time eating, talk to your doctor, nurse, or dietitian. They can suggest food or diet changes. Or your doctor may suggest medicine that can help. Most people are able to continue eating. But in rare cases, you may need other ways to get nutrition, such as a feeding tube.

Managing appetite loss during cancer treatments

When you are getting cancer treatments, you may need to try different eating habits to get the food you need.

  • Try to eat more of the foods you like during the days and times when your appetite is good.

    When you don't feel like eating your normal foods, try different foods than you normally eat. Clear broths or soups and mild foods may be good choices.

  • Eat healthy food.

    Even if you don't feel like eating, try to eat foods that have protein and extra calories. These foods can help to keep up your strength, support your immune system, and prevent weight loss. Try foods high in protein such as lean meats, dairy, nuts, beans, and soy products. Colorful fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and nutrients that can help your body heal.

  • Try easy nutritional drinks when you just don't feel like eating.

    You can drink liquid meal replacements (such as Ensure or Boost) for more calories and protein.

  • Eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day.

    Set a schedule for meals and snacks, and plan for times when it feels best to eat. Try to eat your main meal early.

  • Stay hydrated.

    Drink plenty of water, juices, or other liquids.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.