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10 Tips To Improve Appetite During Cancer Treatments

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 17 December 2021
10 Tips To Improve Appetite During Cancer Treatments

Getting proper nutrition during cancer treatment is vital.

As the body tries to cope with the disease, the side effects from some types of therapy can be equally draining.

It’s common for eating habits to change during cancer treatment. But for some people, their loss of appetite is so extreme that eating anything at all can seem overwhelming.

Many of our patients experience nutrition-impacting symptoms. These might include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, or diarrhea. And the way food tastes or smells may change and become really difficult to handle.


  1. Try eating food that is room temperature or colder, which can make it taste blander.
  2. Leave the kitchen during cooking to avoid odours, which may be bothersome.
  3. Eat small portions frequently throughout the day, rather than trying to eat a full meal in one sitting.
  4. Think of food as medicine. People don’t always like the taste of medicine but realize they need to take it anyway.
  5. Try a liquid nutritional supplement. If even this is hard to finish, use a medicine cup instead of trying to drink it all in one sitting
  6. Focus on eating foods you enjoy.
  7. Add flavour to foods with lemon juice, herbs and spices.
  8. Make meals as enjoyable as possible, e.g. play music, light candles or eat with friends.
  9. Gentle physical activity can stimulate appetite, e.g. take a short walk around the block.
  10. Soft food and clear liquids may be easier to digest.

A loss of appetite often leads to weight loss and malnutrition. Eating is important to help you maintain your strength, function and quality of life. However, it’s not necessary to force yourself to eat; this may only make you feel uncomfortable and cause vomiting and stomach pain. 


Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsResourcesCancerfoods & cancer treatment


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia