How to Manage Your Appetite Changes When Undergoing Chemotherapy

a photo of healthy foods.

The side effects of chemotherapy are many and mostly unpleasant. Although it is a necessary evil, the goal of this treatment is to kill cancer cells. However, in doing so, your body is affected in many ways from hair loss, fatigue, nausea, painful swelling known as lymphedema, and appetite changes, to name just a few. Let’s focus on one of these side effects: how to manage your appetite changes when undergoing chemotherapy.

Our board-certified oncologists provide tailored treatment plans for every patient. Contact New Jersey Cancer Care, PA today.

Appetite Changes Can Be Dangerous

Unfortunately, you may lose your appetite due to nausea plus mouth and throat problems that make it painful to eat.

This can last from several weeks to months, so it’s important to look for ways to remain as healthy as you can. Dehydration can occur which affects healing. It can cause dizziness and weakness. Getting proper nutrition fights infections and repairs damaged tissues.

It’s essential to maintain your calorie, protein, and fluid intake. You need to find a way to overcome the way food smells or tastes during this time.

Ways to Manage Appetite Changes

Have a Set Time to Eat

Eat smaller meals and eat when it’s time, NOT when you are hungry. Try 6 small meals or nutritious snacks instead of large meals.

Drink Liquids

Be sure to drink plenty of liquids. Your urine will turn dark yellow if you are not getting enough water and other drinks. Be careful to drink 30 minutes before or after a mealtime. Don’t drink fluids with meals as it may fill you up. 

Eat More When Hungry

Many patients are more hungry in the morning after sleeping. Use that appetite boost to fill up with protein and fruits.

Avoid Smelly Foods

If you are having an aversion to certain smells, eliminate that food from your daily diet.

Try Eating With Plastic Utensils

If you are being affected by a metal taste in your mouth, eliminate your normal utensils and try to cook food in glass as much as possible.

Make Mealtime an Occasion

Whenever possible, set a pretty table, light a candle, put out a flower, and have meals with soft music in the background.

Take a Short Walk Every Day

Try this simple exercise which may boost your appetite. Check with our board-certified oncologists.

Try Shakes and Protein Drinks

If it’s easier to drink than eat, utilize smoothies and other protein packages to create easy and time-saving protein drinks. Mix fruit and veggies with yogurt or ice cream to create a drink that will be to your liking.

Change Your Routine

If you normally eat in the kitchen, move to the formal dining room or your back porch. Eat with another instead of alone. Watch TV or listen to music as you eat. Mix it up.

Keep Snacks Close at Hand

Peanut butter crackers, a box of raisins, and different kinds of fruits should be nearby or taken with you when you leave the house. Indulge when you feel hungry. Check in with New Jersey Cancer Care, PA if you still can’t eat much even after trying some of the above suggestions.