The side effects discussed previously may make eating difficult, which can cause you to lose weight. Even a small drop in your weight (e.g. 3–4 kg), particularly over a short period of time, may put you at risk of malnutrition. You may be malnourished even if you are overweight.
Significant weight loss and malnutrition can reduce your energy, strength and quality of life. This can affect how you respond to treatment, and side effects may be more severe and your recovery slower. During treatment and recovery, a dietitian can assess whether a feeding tube will help maintain your weight.
How to prevent unplanned weight loss
- Eat small meals frequently.
- Include high-energy and high-protein foods at every meal or snack. For example, drink milk rather than water and choose cheese and biscuits over lollies.
- Try ready-to-use nutritional supplement drinks. Examples include Sustagen, Ensure and Resource Fruit Flavoured Beverage. Many pharmacies and supermarkets sell these specially formulated drinks. You don’t need a prescription.
- If you are having trouble swallowing, talk to a speech pathologist for advice on thickening the supplement.
- For more information, call 13 11 20 for a copy of Nutrition and Cancer, or download a digital version from this page.