Loss of Appetite
A loss of appetite is a decreased desire to eat. If unchecked, appetite loss and the corresponding weight and muscle mass loss can cause a more serious condition called “cachexia”, or wasting away of the body.
What causes loss of appetite?
- Some types of cancer (ovarian, pancreatic, and stomach)
- Radiation therapy
- Mouth sores/ulcers/dry mouth
- Changes in taste and smell
- Difficulty eating (chewing, swallowing)
What happens when people lose their appetite?
- Disinterest in food
- Feeling tired/drained
- Upset stomach
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to taste and smells
What should I eat when I lose my appetite?
When losing your appetite, try to east as many extra calories as you can, foods that you enjoy, and always have ready-to-eat snacks available for quick energy.
- Skim milk
- Add cheese to sandwiches and soups
- Nuts and seeds
- Peanut butter
- Honey/brown sugar
Foods with appealing aromas / favorite foods
- Ethnic cuisine (Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Japanese)
- Roasted chicken with lemon, garlic, onion
- Ice cream
- Deviled eggs
- Peanut butter crackers
- Granola bars
- Canned tuna/chicken
- Pita bread and hummus
Easy to prepare foods
- Canned fruit and vegetables
- Cheese, bean, sour cream dips with chips/vegetables
- Bagel and cream cheese
- Prepackaged pizza
- Granola and dried fruit
- Canned spaghetti/ravioli
What else could I do when I've lost my appetite?
- Eat high calorie/protein snacks every 1-2 hours instead of 3 large meals a day
- Look forward ot meal time
- Set the table nicely
- Eat with someone
- Play your favorite music/movies while eating
- Be physically active
- Eat your favorite foods whenever you want
- Try new foods and recipes
When should I call my healthcare provider about loss of appetite?
- If you follow the recommendations and you are still losing weight
- If you are too tired to do things you need to care for youself (eating, bathing, using the restroom)
- If you have thoughts of harming yourself or others