What to Eat When You Have No Appetite During Cancer Treatment

August 11, 2021
What to Eat When You Have No Appetite During Cancer Treatment

Cancer and many of the medications used to treat it can cause loss of appetite and nausea. However, good food for cancer patients is vital because it helps them keep up their strength during the battle against the disease. Proper nutrition can also help them avoid secondary disease risks, such as infections. We’ll go over what foods are good for cancer patients with no appetite, and how to plan for the loss of appetite due to cancer.

What Causes Loss of Appetite During Cancer?

Understanding how to plan around a loss of appetite can depend on the reason that the patient no longer feels like eating. There are a few ways that appetite loss can happen due to cancer. If a tumor is near the stomach or intestines, it may lead to a swollen feeling in the stomach. Some tumors release hormones that mislead the body into thinking it is full. Side effects of cancer, such as depression, dehydration, and nausea can all reduce appetite. Some cancer medication can also cause nausea or loss of taste.

Why Appetite Loss Matters

Loss of appetite can mean a patient takes in less of the nutrients their body needs. Vitamins and minerals can be vital to helping the body recover from the damage and fatigue it can take during the fight against cancer. Lack of food can also cause weight loss, which can further weaken the body.

Meal Planning for Appetite Loss

Dealing with appetite loss is not just about finding food good for cancer patients, but also about planning around the lack of appetite. It’s important to note that as long as the body is getting nutrients over the day, it’s okay if a patient doesn’t eat full meals. Instead of having three full meals a day, 6-8 smaller meals may be more appropriate. The patient will still get the same amount of nutrition, but not feel ill from overeating at any one moment.

Foods For Appetite Loss

Some foods are better than others when it comes to helping give nutrition to those with an impaired appetite. Starchy food such as bread or pasta tends to be very easy on the stomach. To avoid weight loss and the dangers associated with it, you should mix this with foods high in protein. Chicken, eggs, dairy products, tofu, nuts, yogurt, and legumes are all excellent sources of protein. Many of these foods, like yogurt, work great for smaller snacks.

Liquid foods such as smoothies and milkshakes are also good foods for cancer patients. Because they are liquid they are easier to take in even when someone has a lowered appetite. Fruit smoothies filled with citrus fruits and berries are also excellent boosters of the immune system. Vegetable soups are a great choice - we have a wonderful partner in Soupergirl for providing premade soups.

Keeping hydrated is very important in general. Water and juice should be always available to make sure that dehydration doesn’t occur. This is especially important if medication is causing diarrhea or other intestinal issues.

Supplements and Vitamins

It might be that a cancer patient finds that they simply can’t stomach certain foods. Cancer patients and those caring for them can look into finding supplements and vitamins. These are excellent ways to get the minerals and vitamins that a patient needs to stay healthy even if they can’t eat larger amounts of food. It should be noted though that supplements won’t help with weight loss - actual food is always needed.

Learn More About Nutrition for Cancer Patients

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