It is not uncommon for people to lose weight before they are diagnosed or as a result of treatment. Many people find that their appetite changes, either due to their disease or as a result of their treatment or medication.
What can I do?
There are a few medicines that may improve your appetite but they can have side effects. Ask your doctor, nurse or dietitian if they would be suitable for you.
What can I eat?
- Many people find it easier to have small frequent snacks throughout the day rather than sticking to three meals a day
- Some people find that alcoholic drinks such as sherry or a glass of wine before a meal can help perk up their appetite
- Try to eat when your appetite is at its best. For many patients this is in the morning – why not try a cooked breakfast or porridge?
- A very full plate of food may put you off eating. Try having your food on a smaller plate to keep the portions small – you can always go back for more if you still feel hungry
- Choose easy-to-eat foods – many people find soft foods like puddings easier than difficult-to-chew foods like meat.
- Choose full-fat foods wherever possible, such as those labelled 'luxury' or 'thick and creamy' rather than 'light', 'diet' or 'low fat'
- Use full-cream milk and full-fat yoghurt
- Try to eat fried foods more often if you can manage them
- Don't fill up on low-energy filling foods such as vegetables and fruit
- Add extra butter, margarine or oil to bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, chapatis, rotis, noodles and cooked vegetables
- Add peanut butter, chocolate spread, lemon curd, honey, jam or marmalade to bread, toast, crackers or biscuits
- Add mayonnaise or oil-based dressings to salads, sandwiches and jacket potato fillings, or use as a dip for crisps or chips
- Add extra cheese to pizzas, sauces, soups, pasta and vegetables, and extra paneer to curries
- Avoid replacing a meal with soup as it does not have as much nourishment as a meal or snack. If you really fancy soup then enrich using one of the ideas in the next bullet point
- Add cream, sour cream, plain yoghurt, mascarpone cheese or crème fraîche to sauces, soups and meat dishes
- Use evaporated milk, condensed milk or cream (pouring or whipped) to top desserts, cakes and hot drinks
- Add cream to porridge, custard and other milk puddings
- Use extra sugar, honey or syrup with cereal, drinks, fruit and desserts
- Have cream, ice cream or soya ice cream (frozen non-dairy dessert) with desserts
- Try and keep a variety of foods in your diet as this may help improve your intake
Specific eating problems
If you have a problem such as diarrhoea or an altered sense of taste, we have more tips and strategies for healthy eating.