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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


Loss of Appetite & Appetite Medications

What is it? What causes it?

Loss of appetite is when you do not get the feeling that you want to eat. Many things can cause you to lose your appetite the cancer itself, treatment, anxiety, and/or depression to name a few.

Why is it important to maintain an appetite?

A good diet is one of the best ways to help damaged cells rebuild. Studies have found that patients who eat well can better handle the side effects of treatment.

What to do:

  • Try to eat small meals often and eat a variety of foods.
  • If you have pain while chewing or swallowing, ask your health care provider and/or dietitian about recommending a powdered or liquid diet supplement.
  • Milkshakes and pureed fruits often taste good when solid food does not. There are nutritional supplements that can be added to milkshakes to give you the vitamins and protein you need.
  • Keep healthy snacks nearby for nibbling.
  • If you can only eat small amounts, increase calories by adding butter, cream sauces or melted cheese to your recipes. You may also want to substitute milk or half and half when water is called for in recipes.
  • Ask the VICC nutritionist about special recipe booklets and diet guides.
  • Use soft lighting, quiet music and colorful table settings to make eating a special event.
  • If friend and family offer to cook for you, let them and do not be afraid to tell them what you like to eat.