Poor appetite and weight loss
Some people stop feeling interested in eating and lose weight even before lung cancer is diagnosed. These symptoms may be caused by the disease itself, or by nausea, difficulty swallowing, breathlessness, or feeling down.
Eating well will help you cope better with day-to-day living, treatment and side effects, and improve your quality of life. You may find it useful to talk to a dietitian who is experienced in treating people with cancer. A dietitian can help you find foods that you can manage, and can recommend protein drinks and other supplements if needed. You can ask your treatment team to refer you to a dietitian.
Eating when you have little appetite
- Have small meals and snacks regularly. A large, full plate may put you off eating – try using a smaller plate with moderate portions instead. Likewise, drink from a half-full glass.
- Eat moist food such as scrambled eggs. Moister food tends to be easier to eat and will cause less irritation if you have a sore mouth.
- Try eating fresh salads or cold foods if hot food smells make you nauseous.
- Avoid fatty or sugary foods if these make you feel sick.
- Use lemon juice and herbs to add flavour to bland food.
- Add ice-cream or fruit to a drink to increase kilojoules and nutrients.
- Eat more of your favourite foods – follow your cravings.
- To learn more see Nutrition and cancer.
Dr Henry Marshall, Thoracic Physician, The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, QLD; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Melbourne and Epworth Richmond Hospitals, VIC; A/Prof Martin Borg, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, SA; Dr Lisa Briggs, Consumer; Kirsten Mooney, Thoracic Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Claire Mulvihill, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President Elect, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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