Talk to your Doctor
Your doctor may be able to treat some of the symptoms – such as nausea or mouth ulcers – that hinder eating. They can also advise you on weight management and eating or refer you to a dietician.
Talk to a dietician
A dietician can provide you with a dietary plan that meets your nutritional needs while taking into account the factors affecting your eating.
Q: I love to have a drink with my friends, but should I be avoiding alcohol?
A: Despite convincing evidence that alcohol is a risk factor for some types of cancer, there is no evidence to say that drinking if you have cancer is a concern.
The Cancer Council recommends cancer survivors limit (no more than two standard drinks a day for men and one for women) or avoid alcohol, and this is probably a good guideline for someone with advanced cancer too – if only to help your body remain as strong as possible to fight symptoms. Talk to your Doctor about it and ask about how alcohol may mix with your treatment and medications.
Talk to your friends
Your friends and family may be happy to accommodate your dietary needs so you can enjoy eating with them. You may prefer to go out for breakfast or lunch, for instance, rather than go to dinner when you may be tired and the food may be too heavy and the portions too big. If friends or family want to cook for you, brief them on what you can eat.
If you have no appetite but need to maintain or increase your weight try:
- Eating small meals more often
- Eating as soon as you feel hungry, rather than waiting for meal times
- Using supplements, such as Sustagen or Fortisip
- Adding cream or butter to meals
- Snacking on yoghurt, cheese and crackers, or milkshakes
- Adding lentils or split peas to soups and casseroles.
If you need to control your weight but maintain your nutrients, try:
- Eating regularly - don't skip meals, but keep meals small
- Replacing energy-dense foods with vegetables and salad
- Filling up on soup
- Making your carbohydrates wholegrain, where possible
- Using reduced-fat dairy products
- Using high-density foods such as lollies, chocolate, pastries and biscuits as occasional treats only
- Watching out for 'sneaky' calories in sof drinks and alcohol.
For more information
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Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.
Last updated 30 August 2015