Foods For Cancer Patients With No Appetite

Foods For Cancer Patients With No Appetite

Foods for cancer patients with no apetite

A person who is diagnosed with cancer tends to undergo several changes on their physical, mental and emotional planes. Loss of appetite is a fairly common problem in cancer patients. It could be simply due to cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, biliary tree or it could be a side effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The condition of loss of appetite, as a result, is called “cachexia” in medical terminology. Side effects of cancer medications which can cause gastrointestinal disturbances to include:

Several institutes are now using an integrated approach towards cancer patients which involves conventional therapy, alternative medications like homeopathy or Ayurveda to counter side effects and appropriate advice regarding diet and exercise to prevent cancer patients from undergoing muscle wasting.

Signs And Symptoms Which Point Towards The Diagnosis Of Cancer Are

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Palpable mass
  • Tendency for bleeding
  • Finger clubbing
  • Fatigue (weakness)
  • Bone pains
  • Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
  • Recurrent respiratory tract infections

Foods For Cancer Patients With No Appetite

Maintaining a good nutritional balance can be relatively difficult for cancer patients with loss of appetite. Foods for each cancer patient with no appetite are generally advised keeping in mind individual choices and preferences.

List Of Foods For Cancer Patients With No Appetite Are


These can be eaten completely or mashed. Bananas make a suitable food choice for patients who face difficulties in chewing or swallowing. Bananas are also a great source of vitamins and potassium which are necessary for muscles.


Carrots are rich in anti-oxidants, especially beta-carotene and vitamin C which enable healing.

Cruciferous Foods

These include green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, celery, and cauliflower. Cruciferous foods are rich in vitamin C, nutrients and minerals such as iron and therefore work as ideal food substances for cancer patients with no appetite. These foods also enhance the process of healing and recovery and are known to prevent the risk of relapses.

Citric Fruits And Vegetables

Foods such as tomatoes, lemons, oranges, grapes, grapefruit, and Indian gooseberry contain citric acid which is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. they are known to increase gastric juice secretion which enhances the process of digestion.


Pears are rich in vitamins B, C, E and K, and potassium. It is one of the best natural appetizers for cancer patients and therefore patients are advised to include this fruit in their diet.


Proteins are important for the body to carry out all of its normal functioning. This is because proteins are important constituents of hormones and enzymes. It is also important for the process of growth and repair in the body.

Proteins can be taken in the form of supplements or through natural sources such as:

  • Eggs
  • Lean Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Cheese and cottage cheese
  • Nuts
  • Milk and milkshakes
  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas

Tips For Cancer Patients With Loss Of Appetite

  • Starchy Foods – Make sure that the foods are preferably rich in starch since their breakdown releases glucose which in return generates energy for the body to carry out various metabolic processes.

  • High-Calorie Intake – Consume foods which are high in calories such as yogurts, ice creams, puddings, milkshakes, etc. Foods that are high in calories help in maintaining an optimal blood sugar level so that the energy required body’s metabolic functions are sufficiently available.

  • Seasoned Food – Relatives can use sauces and seasoning to get rid of strange or medicinal tastes

  • Plenty Of Fluids – In the form of water, juices, and flavored drinks can be consumed in greater quantity if not hungry. The reason to have more liquids are

    • Liquids help to keep the stomach full if the patient does not want to eat
    • Keeps the patient well hydrated.

  • Keep Snacks Handy – It is possible for patients to wake up hungry at night. Therefore it is best to keep some fruits or snacks handy at such times.

  • Honey – Provides anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which are beneficial in fighting or preventing the occurrence of infections.

  • Sweets And Candies – It is always beneficial to keep some mint or candies with the patient to help them get rid of the metallic or medicinal taste which could be a possible reason for the loss of appetite.

  • Meal Timings – Maintaining meal timings is as important as following a diet. Instead of enforcing 3 regular large meals, cancer patients with loss of appetite should be encouraged to divide their daily meals into 6-8 smaller portions. This is because:

    • Smaller meals are easier to chew and swallow
    • Smaller portions are light on the gut and can be easily swallowed.
    • Smaller meals are less likely to cause bloating.
    • With smaller meals, there are greater chances of the food being tolerated well by the gut.

Apart from specific foods which can work as natural appetite stimulants for cancer patients, the physician or dietician may also recommend vitamin or mineral supplements or medications which increase appetite in cancer patients and also make up for the deficit in the diet.

The above-mentioned list of foods simply gives a brief idea of what kind of foods and in what way can be given to cancer patients with no appetite. Some foods work as appetite stimulants, whereas some help to keep the patient full.

Foods To Avoid During Cancer Are

  • Fried or processed foods
  • Excess intake of sugary or salty foods
  • Red meat
  • Preserved foods such as jams, pickles
  • Minimize or cut down on alcohol

Educating cancer patients about their disease condition, providing encouragement to eat and telling the patients how diet is an important factor to promote healing along with appropriate counseling of relatives also goes a long way in tackling this issue in cancer patients.