- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Nutrition and cancer
- Treatment side effects and nutrition
A common side effect of treatment is feeling extreme and constant tiredness. This is known as fatigue. It is different to normal tiredness because it usually doesn’t improve with rest. Fatigue can be caused by treatment side effects that reduce the number of red blood cells (anaemia) or that affect your appetite.
How to manage fatigue
- Plan ahead for when you feel too tired to cook. Prepare food in advance and store in the freezer.
- Cook in the morning when you are less likely to be tired.
- Shop online for groceries instead of going to the shops.
- Ask for and accept offers of help with shopping and cooking from family and friends.
- Consider using apps such as CanDo and LOVLIST to coordinate offers of help.
- Do regular exercise to help improve fatigue and appetite.
- Keep snacks such as muesli bars, dried fruit, nuts and crackers in handy locations, e.g. in your bag or car. This will allow you to keep your energy levels up if you have unexpected delays.
- See Recipes and snacks for a list of quick snacks you can eat at home.
- Use services such as Meals on Wheels or other home delivery meal companies that bring pre-prepared food to you. There are also companies that deliver prepared ingredients with recipes that you can cook at home yourself.
- Eat with others to make meals as enjoyable as possible, particularly if you are feeling too tired to eat.
For more on this, listen to our podcast on Managing Cancer Fatigue.
Jenelle Loeliger, Head of Nutrition and Speech Pathology Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rebecca Blower, Public Health Advisor, Cancer Prevention, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Julia Davenport, Consumer; Irene Deftereos, Senior Dietitian, Western Health, VIC; Lynda Menzies, A/Senior Dietitian – Cancer Care (APD), Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Janice Savage, Consumer.
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