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How To Increase Your Appetite REPLACED BY ARTICLE 1572


There may be days when you just can't eat because of loss of appetite, nausea or mouth and throat problems. There may also be days when you just don't feel like eating because of depression or fatigue.

Consider these tips:

  • Eat small meals or snacks whenever you want. You don't have to eat three regular meals each day.
  • Vary your diet.
    • Try new foods and recipes.
    • Fall back on favorite foods when necessary.
  • Try physical exercise. For example:
    • Take a walk before meals whenever you can. This may make you feel hungrier.
    • If you are in bed, get up and walk around. While in bed, there are exercises you can do such as range-of motion or yoga.
  • Change your mealtime routine. For example:
    • Eat in a different place.
    • Make the atmosphere more pleasant during mealtime. For example, with candle light, or colorful place settings, flowers or background music.
    • Make the food attractive.
    • Stick to a set time each day to eat - whether you feel like it or not.
    • Eat with friends or family members. When eating alone, listen to the radio or watch TV.
  • If you live alone: you might want to arrange for Meals on Wheels offsite link or similar program to bring food to you. Ask your doctor, nurse, social worker or local disease specific nonprofit about services in your area.
  • Small amounts of alcohol can help you relax and increase your appetite. Before drinking beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages, check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if it would interact negatively with any of the drugs you take. Alcohol may reduce their effectiveness or create negative side effects.
  • Consider liquid dietary supplements such as Ensure, Boost or Sustacal.
    • Concerning Ensure:
      • If you have a low income, you may be able to get Ensure for free for up to a year. Call 800.222.6885 Option #5 You will be mailed an application to take to your doctor for completion and fax back to thecompany.
      • For higher income people, Ensure has coupons available to help reduce the cost. See: offsite link. For couplons: offsite link. (You will have to answer a series of marketing type questions to obtain the coupons)
    • It is worth checking other supplement companies to see if they have programs similar to Ensure. Search on the name of the product in your favorite search engine.
  • Marijuana has been shown to increase appetite. 
    • Before using marijuana, check to find out the legal status of use for medical purposes in your state. See "To Learn More."
  • Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications which have been shown to increase appetite, such as Marinol. Marinol is a synthetic version of a main ingredient found in marijuana.
  • Be sure to have adequate liquid intake. to prevent dehydration. Perhaps drinking through a straw makes it easier to drink. If you can't drink, suck on ice chips or even a popsicle.
  • Whatever the reason for appetite loss, consider the recipes in the book published by the American Cancer Society offsite link: What To Eat During Cancer Treatment. 

If you cannot eat enough food to maintain your weight

Ask your doctor for the best high-calorie, high-protein drink for you.

If you have cancer

For more information on appetite loss during treatment for cancer, see the American Cancer Society Booklet: Nutrition for the Person with Cancer During Treatment: A Guide for Patients and Families offsite link. You can call the American Cancer Society at 800.ACS.2345


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