• How to get one to eat more when they say they are never hungry?

    Asked by sarahgrossman on Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    How to get one to eat more when they say they are never hungry?

    So it's been about 3 months since my dad has had chemo/radiation and 6 weeks since surgery. He barely eats anything and constantly says that he has no appitite. Anyone else with esophageal cancer have this problem for this long? Is there anything that helped to get your appitite back?

    16 Answers from the Community

    16 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      For me it isn't so much not being hungry....it is more that everything tastes bad and upsets my stomach. I would suggest he talk to his doctor. If he is not wanting to eat because of indigestion, bad taste, or soreness in his throat, that is different from having no appetite, and there is probably a solution for it. In the mean time, if liquids go down better, try a protein shake type supplement like Ensure.

      over 4 years ago
    • cranburymom's Avatar

      Exercise, exercise. If one can, do it outside!
      Amazing - every time I run/jog outside, I can eat.
      Also one can eat with really good friends.
      hope one of these works....

      all the best,


      over 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I had similar cancer, a tonsil, I had serious sores in my mouth, throat, from the radiation, I didn't want to eat either, lost 50 lbs. I survived on milk shakes, ate as many as I could. Maybe try that.

      over 4 years ago
    • mkrabbe's Avatar

      It's been about 6 months since surgery for me and it did take me a while to start eating enough. At first I had to eat small amounts more often and kept trying differant things until I found things that tasted good to me. My taste did change so I had to stop going with what I did like before and try new stuff. I didn't get hungry at first and just made it a point to eat every few hours anyway but in time it got better and the more I made myself eat the better it got. I did have some discomfort after I ate at first but it did get better in time. I think it just took some time for my new stomic to get setteled in to its new environment.

      over 4 years ago
    • RuthAnne's Avatar

      I recommend smoothies. Although they didn't increase my appetite, they got me through the worst of my chemo in good shape. Prevention magazine (google "prevention magazine" and "chemo smoothie") has a great recipe that worked wonders for me. Very nutritious and easy on the stomach.

      Good luck!

      over 4 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      I have become a grazer and eat small amounts throughout the day. I also don't worry about good nutrition. If I feel like McNuggets and fries, I just go for it. I have lost the ability to taste different things so I go for different textures in food which helps a bit. I try more crunchy foods like crackers, tacos and dry cereal. With the chemo I am on, cold foods are very painful and I do long for ice cream but I have gone for rice pudding warmed in the microwave. Sometimes just a tablespoon full of peanut butter helps too. You just have to be open to trying different things, going with what you feel like and getting away from the traditional meals.

      over 4 years ago
    • mysecondchance's Avatar

      I am a person who has fought a life-long battle with food. When I went in for my "chemo class" I was told to eat rich, high-fat foods during treatment to make sure I got enough calories. Imagine that! Carte blanche to eat whatever and whenever I wanted. The catch was that once I was into treatment even the thought of food turned me off. I knew it was too good to be true.

      There were times I survived on a couple of teaspoons of applesauce or a few pieces of nuked potato with a pat of butter. I had to rack my brain to find something I could eat. Luckily I had people around who were willing to provide me with my requests.

      At first my people were trying to force feed me. I know where they were coming from but I had to explain that I couldn't eat something at all or I needed to see very small quantities on the plate. I would ask for a cracker or two and I would get a plate of crackers. I felt like throwing the plate across the room but thankfully I was able to control myself.

      At one point I developed a thing for sweet pickles. I normally like them but they tasted soooooo good I would just eat them out of the jar. It was a strange time to say the least. I don't think I have really helped with your situation but like I said what worked for me was to let my mind wander until I thought of a food I could eat. I ate the nuked potatoes for several days and they hit the spot.

      over 4 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      Is your loved one losing weight - out of control?

      If so, then talking to the docs is paramount. I know many people resist feeding tubes... insisting on never getting them. But, I know several people who were massively grateful for them because the taste factor and the OOOOOOOO YUCKY factor simply went away. Once the horrid taste problems and the yuck factor abates, the feeding tube is removed... and one starts eating normally again.

      If your loved one is slowly losing weight but not dangerously thin... then again - talk to the docs... but probably the answer is patience... Your loved one will know when is the right time for eating....

      If your loved one's weight is stable... Then just hold your thoughts inside your head... or ask if there's anything you can do... be prepared that the answer might be - don't ask me about food - don't help me with food...

      I lost a bunch of weight during my chemo... and people tried to force feed me, and like above... it kind of ticked me off at times. I know it was coming from a place of love, but I didn't need the pressure... It just made me feel ... well... worse.

      On the upside - I'm not post-chemo, and I'm at a healthy weight, and food tastes great again. I wish that for your loved one.

      PS - the exercise advice is FANTASTIC - that does spur up the appetite and make it loads easier to eat.... NIGHT AND DAY difference... So, can you get your dad out for a wee little walk? or hike? or ... what does he love to do? Get him out on a boat? Go to a show about something he loves (old cars, maybe)? Go to the library? Whatever... Something that gets him to move will very likely make it easier for him to eat.

      over 4 years ago
    • ttisme's Avatar

      I lost 30 lbs during this journey. Food has NO taste. I can't tolerate the smell of cooking meat and I can't smell or taste what I want to cook! and Don't expect me to "tell me what you feel like eating"! cuz i really am just going to tell you how I feel!

      I found that during treatment/days after, I don't make choices, family members show up with dinner and I eat what's on my child size portioned plate. On good weeks, I stick with foods I remember liking- veggies, yogert, peanut butter, crunchy foods. There is nothing wrong with angel food cake and peanut butter for breakfast!

      So my recommendations is offer foods that they like, in baby portions. Drinks high in calories-Ovalteen and Carnation Essentials. And do not push. He'll eat when ready.

      over 4 years ago
    • WVgirl2424's Avatar

      Yes, I remember those days. Metallic taste or no taste and making myself eat. Eating things I remembered liking. If your father is underweight you should talk with his oncologist about these concerns, there are medications he can take to help increase his appetite. I am an RN, 8 months post stem cell transplant, not an oncology nurse, but I do know there are medicinal options. Also eating with plastic spoons etc. will help with bad ate in your mouth when you eat. Prayers for your Daddy, mine is above, an angel to watch over us.

      over 4 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      I would go an entire week without eating, but would always drink at least two Ensure each day. Then I would be able to eat normally the next week. Of course, there is no "normal" when on chemo, but I would eat more a balanced diet, albeit much smaller portions.

      over 4 years ago
    • sarahgrossman's Avatar

      Thanks everyone...we are kind of at a breaking point with my Dad and eating...he is blood work was pretty bad this week...we are trying to not force feed him and let him tell us when he's ready but it's hard when he is pretty close to needing to be admitted to the hospital for malnutrition...we'll see what happens! thanks for all the advice!

      over 4 years ago
    • krbrowndog's Avatar

      I am not a advocate of medical marijuana usually, but to increase appetite it might be appropriate. I too don't want to eat because it is too painful, so I mainly drink "boost" type supplements and that's how I survive. I don't use the marijuana but just thought it might be a good answer

      about 4 years ago
    • wisgayle's Avatar

      My husband had no appetite after the initial diagnosis and after his infusions. We discovered that you never ask a cancer patient if they're hungry. The answer is always 'no'. If we gave him a list: pudding cup, yogurt, jello, etc., he would find one that would appeal to him. We'd start off with two tablespoons of jello--not so much that it's overwhelming. After he kept that down, a couple of more. We just offered small quantities of the easy stuff all day for the first day and gradually built up from there. Mac and cheese, jello, pudding cups, ice cream--whatever he could keep down. Of course this may not work for everyone, but it sure made a difference here. Hope this helps

      about 4 years ago
    • crabtrjt's Avatar

      I had the same problem and it was no appetite, I had tongue cancer and had a feeding tube in my stomach, so I had what seemed like thousand cans of Insure which I was even only doing 2 cans a day which was making me lose so much weight, My fiancee was going to work worring about this and made me promise to do the recommended 8 cans per day, which I did promise and did, I finally started stabilized the losing weight and began slowly gaining a couple of lbs, You will get through this tho, but you just feel like you will never get rid of the stomach tube, because you know you cannot take food by mouth, but the day does come where you can eat, I would go to the park and try a choc milk shake, and get a couple of sips of that and throw that up, sorry, but you got to keep trying and make yourself try all things, Good Luck tho Tim

      about 4 years ago
    • booboo's Avatar

      I got through it with marijuana and Starbucks hot chocolate. He really needs calories so ask them to make it with half and half. Sometimes I could eat mashed potatoes and gravy. Avocados were good too, high in calories but good-for-you fat. Whatever he is able to eat, make it with the highest calorie ingredients possible. I don't like Ensure (the strawberry flavor is not too vile) but Carnation Instant Breakfast has the same nutrition value, is less expensive and tastes a whole lot better.

      about 4 years ago

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