How will radiation therapy affect my appetite?
Radiation therapy may cause you to lose your appetite. However, it is important
to continue following good nutrition practices even if you don't feel like
eating. Eating balanced, nutritious meals provides you with the energy you need
and the fuel for your body to recover from treatment and fight infection.
What can I do to improve my appetite during treatment?
- Walk or participate in another light activity to stimulate your
- Eat small, frequent meals and snacks.
- Make food preparation an easy task: choose foods that are easy
to prepare and eat.
- Choose high-protein and high-calorie snacks.
- Drink a nutritional supplement to provide additional calories,
protein, and other nutrients. A registered dietitian can recommend a good
brand to meet your needs.
- Avoid non-nutritious beverages such as black coffee and tea.
- Plan meals to include your favorite foods.
- Make eating a pleasurable experience, not a chore:
-- Liven up your meals by using colorful place settings.
-- Play background music during meals.
- Try not to eat alone: invite a guest to share your meal or go
out to dinner.
- Use your imagination to increase the variety of food you're
- Use colorful garnishes such as parsley and red or yellow
peppers to make food look more appealing and appetizing.
What are some ways to boost calories?
Don't rely on fatty snacks such as potato chips, candy bars and soft drinks.
Although these foods add calories to your daily diet, you'll sacrifice good
nutrition by eating them. Instead, follow these guidelines to boost the amount
of calories in the foods you eat:
Juice: Choose apple, cranberry, grape, pineapple, or apricot juice --
these juices have more calories than orange and grapefruit juice.
Fruit: Choose bananas and dried fruits -- they have more calories
than "watery" fruits such as peaches or plums.
Milk: Add dry powdered milk or instant breakfast mix to milk or
Hot cereal: Cook with milk and add powdered milk, margarine, peanut
butter, walnuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, or dried fruit.
Cold cereal: Choose dense cereals such as a granola (as opposed to flaked
or puffed types). Top with fresh fruit.
Toast: Spread with generous amounts of peanut butter, margarine, or jam.
Sandwiches: Choose hearty, thick breads such as whole wheat, multi-grain,
or pumpernickel. Fill sandwiches generously with tuna, chicken, peanut butter,
or other sandwich fillings.
Soups: Choose hearty lentil, split pea, minestrone, and barley soups --
these soups have more calories than broth soups. Add evaporated or powdered milk
to increase calories. Garnish with parmesan cheese or crackers.