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5 Ways to manage Loss of Appetite for Cancer Warriors!

Over the years, cancer has become one of the common diseases that the human race has fallen prey to. It is true that cancer was a rare occurrence in the past, but is now the second leading cause of mortality in the world, the cardiovascular disease being the first.



With the cancer incidence increasing, the research for managing cancer is also on par. From symptomatic management to tips to prevent cancer, there is so much information available on the internet this day. With this blog, my idea is to share a few ways that will help you manage your diet, considering all the symptoms that come along with cancer.

The symptoms of cancer vary based on the type of cancer. I will be writing blogs on various kinds of cancer and it's management very soon, but this blog will focus managing loss of appetite.



When it comes to cancer, you will be recommended a standard -

High Calorie, High protein, reduce simple carbohydrates, eat more antioxidant-rich food, include colors in your diet, fruits and vegetables daily....Yada yada yada!

But diet in cancer management is more than the calories and proteins and antioxidants. Each person experiences different difficulties and challenges, physically, socially, and practically. Loss of appetite is one of the major symptoms that most people face either due to the cancer cells itself or due to the treatment. Let's explore how you can manage loss of appetite in a more practical sense.



Lack/Loss of Appetite

It's almost as if a switch was flipped and your appetite is gone. For some, it's a gradual process where you stop losing interest in food and do not get the usual hunger response. But the cause for this loss of appetite can be many.

  • If it is a cancer of the head, neck, or gastrointestinal tract, swallowing can be painful, thus causing loss of appetite because you automatically associate eating with pain and making eating an undesirable feeling.

  • Certain tumor or cancerous cells produce hormones that alter your perception of hunger.

  • Sores in the mouth, either due to medications or chemotherapy can reduce your interest to eat.

  • For some, there will be a metallic taste in the mouth, which makes eating a less appetizing process.

RECOGNIZE APPETIZING FOODS

The first thing you do in this situation is to recognize food that you find appetizing. For some, it might be tangy foods, and for some, it might be foods with spices or herbs. So keep a watch out for foods that are appetizing to you.


CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Always consider the consistency of the food you consume. In case of mouth ulcers or swallowing difficulties, choosing semi-solid consistency foods like porridge, soups, juices can be a better option, or soft foods like double-cooked rice, soft boiled eggs, custard, etc. But in case you are experiencing vomiting or nausea, the semi-solid or liquid consistency might aggravate the symptom. So in this case, pick something that is dry like a slice of bread toast, a few pieces of cucumber or carrot, or salted crackers.


BLAND DOESN'T MEAN LESS FLAVOR

In case of sores in the mouth, or irritation of the food pipe, bland foods are the best choice. But bland foods can be made flavorful using herbs that will not aggravate the symptom. Adding a pinch of cinnamon or add a little scraping of nutmeg to your porridge will elevate the flavor. Herb seasonings like oregano, basil, mint, coriander in your soups, gravies, chutneys, and sauces can make a world of difference. What you need to keep away from is spices like red chilly or green chilly and instead, use turmeric which will also help in the healing process of sores.


AVOID FOODS THAT DON'T PLEASE YOU

In case there are foods or smells that are causing nausea or vomiting, stay away from these foods. These will only worsen your loss of appetite. There are many alternative foods that will give you the same nutrients and benefits. So you do not have to force yourself to eat food just because it is healthy.


EAT SMALL PORTIONS

Eating smaller meals will also be helpful. When you have a loss of appetite, eating large quantities will cause you discomfort and attach the whole eating experience to discomfort. So eat small portions more frequently in gaps of 1 and half hours. The food can be of the consistency of your choice.


Managing loss of appetite and making an effort to get through this is very important, because, loss of appetite and eating less will worsen the symptoms and also cause muscle wasting. It is a challenge and it takes preparedness and willingness to tackle this symptom. As mentioned, each person has different experiences and if you find it difficult and overwhelming to manage, get in touch with your medical expert and nutrition expert to get a tailor-made solution.


Hope you found this blog useful and I will be covering other symptoms and their management in the upcoming blogs.

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