Anorexia or Loss of Appetite

Anorexia or a loss of appetite, is a common problem for people receiving treatment for cancer. The treatments themselves, changes in taste, pain, fatigue and illness are among the causes. However, good nutrition through a nutrient dense diet with adequate protein is a very important aspect of achieving and maintaining wellness. Diet is an important part of your treatment plan. Try some of the following ideas to help improve your appetite.

Fluids and Diet 

  • Become a nibbler. Snack all day long. Eating three large meals daily may not be the answer if you don’t feel hungry, so spread out an equal amount of food over the whole day. Perhaps five or six small meals will work better for you.
  • Avoid empty calories, such as soft drinks. Instead, concentrate on foods high in protein; eggs, peas, beans, natural peanut or almond butter, fish and tofu are a few examples. Beef and chicken are also good sources of protein; however, many people lose their taste for meats. 
  • Breakfast may be your best meal of the day, so try to eat at least one third of your daily calories at that time. 
  • Avoid drinking fluids with meals as they may give you a sense of fullness.


  • A nutritional supplement like Ensure Plus and Glucerna may be a nice option for a meal or a snack. Another option that may provide more nutrients would be to blend your own smoothies with whey protein, almond milk with fruit and vegetables. 


  • Sometimes, when in pain it is difficult to think about eating, so make sure to keep your pain controlled. 

Eating as a social event

  • Make eating a social event. Eat with others in a pleasant area, perhaps with soft music and at an attractive table. Use small plates and portions so you can be successful at completing your meal. Or you can try small portions on a large plate.