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Cancer and Nutrition
What Every Caregiver Should Know

by Hillary Wright, Staff Writer

(Page 5 of 7)

Loss of Appetite

Sometimes medical treatments and therapies can cause a decrease in appetite. Here are some ways that caregivers can help make favorite dishes appealing again:

  • Try seasonings such as lemon juice, mint, basil and other herbs and spices to perk up the taste and smell of food.

  • Add sugar and salt to foods, if intake is not restricted.

  • Serve food attractively and in a pleasing atmosphere.

  • Vary the colors of foods on the plate and use garnishes such as lemon or lime wedges.

  • Colorful place settings and soft background music can help make mealtimes more enjoyable, too.

  • Use a therapeutic nutritional beverage such as ProSure to help reverse the metabolic changes that can affect appetite.

  • Walk the dog or take an early-evening stroll before eating.

  • Light exercise may help stimulate the appetite.

  • Plan the biggest meal of the day when a person with cancer is most hungry, even if thatís early in the day.

  • Serve foods a loved one enjoys whenever they feel like eating, even if itís not a usual meal time.

Overcoming Vomiting and Nausea

If a person with cancer is suffering from vomiting, nausea, or feels too full to eat, try these tips:

  • Drink liquids an hour before or after eating to keep from filling up quickly during meals.

  • Eat high-carbohydrate foods such as crackers and toast if troubled by nausea. They move through the stomach quickly and may be particularly helpful if eaten first thing in the morning.

  • Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly.

  • Rest after eating. Activity can slow digestion and may cause discomfort.
    food smells cause nausea, keep a person with cancer out of the kitchen while meals are prepared - even have them leave the house, if possible. Cold foods tend to have fewer odors, so try serving more dairy products, chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, cold soups and cool desserts with fruit.

Change of Taste and Smell

Some therapies and treatments can change the way food tastes and smells. Here are some tips that may help alleviate these symptoms:

  • Serve food cold or at room temperature to decrease its smell and taste.

  • Choose foods that provide texture and crunch to help give a real sense of eating that is not provided by soft, bland foods.

  • Use seasonings and condiments such as salt, lemon juice, catsup, pickles and olives that donít rely on smell to enhance food.

  • Avoid the area where food is being prepared, as odors may increase the chance for nausea.

  • Eat several small meals during the day rather than three large ones.

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