11 Ways to Help Manage Appetite Loss



Try new foods. If you start to dislike your favorite foods, try foods that are different from what you normally eat. Be sure to try new foods when you’re feeling good so you don’t develop more food dislikes.

Eat lightly and several hours before you receive a treatment. This helps prevent food aversions caused by nausea or vomiting after chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or radiation.

Ask another person to cook for you, or rely on prepared foods from a store if you can’t stand cooking smells. You can also order take-out.

Try eating cold foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, or sandwiches, because there will be fewer smells.

Try eating with plastic utensils if your food tastes like metal.

Rinse your mouth with tea, ginger ale, salted water, or baking soda dissolved in water before you eat to help clear your taste buds. Some people say that sucking on ice chips in between bites of food helps numb their taste buds so they can eat.

Don’t force yourself to eat foods that taste bad to you. Find substitutes that you can tolerate.

Eat small, frequent meals. It may be easier to eat more that way.

Keep snacks close at hand so you can eat when you feel like it. Cheese and crackers, muffins, peanut better, and fruit work well.

Don’t wait until you feel hungry to eat. If you have no appetite, think of eating as a necessary part of your treatment. Try to eat at least a little something at regularly scheduled times during the day.

Consider a liquid protein supplement if you’re having trouble getting enough protein. Commercial products are available. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian for product recommendations and other eating tips.

Up next: 16 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Lymphedema

Learn more in our Healthy Eating During Treatment section.