Many patients acquire taste or smell changes and don’t know how to cope with cancer weight loss or unexplained weight loss. Changes in weight and taste (or smell) can be precursors, or early signals, of underlying cancer. These symptoms can come out prior to the cancer appearing and are crucial symptoms to acknowledge (so that the cancer can be detected early on in its course).
Some patients develop taste/smell loss or distortion after the cancer is evident. This is typically connected with loss of appetite and weight. The reasons for these alterations are complicated, but connect to many shifts in body chemistry associated with the cancer itself.
Cancer Treatment and Nutrition
Some physical shifts develop during treatment for the cancer- during or after radiation and chemotherapy. These symptoms are always related to loss of appetite and weight. Maintaining normal food intake is vital for maintaining well-being so that the cancer growth can be suppressed. Cancer treatment is most effective if natural body weight and nutrition is preserved. Try the following tips for managing appetite changes and weight loss.
Increase Calories and Nutrient Density
Eat high calorie nutrient dense foods first so that you don’t become full on other foods. Keep high calorie, indulgent foods close at hand. Nutritious snack bars or high protein bars are an excellent choice, as are nuts and nut butters.
Add powered milk to liquid milk and cooked dishes such as meatloaf. Extra egg whites added to cooked dishes, such as casseroles or omelets, add additional protein.
Dealing with Nausea
Experiment to find the right temperature food. Some people do well with cold foods or room temperature foods. Hot foods produce more aromas that may cause nausea.
Try using plastic silverware if you have a metallic taste in your mouth. Also, try adding a few drops of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt to food. Sea salt lacks the bitter taste of regular salt.
Eat small frequent meals. An empty stomach will enhance the feeling of nausea. Chew food well and eat slowly.
Bland foods that you normally eat when you have a cold or the flu may be tolerated the best. This includes:
Mouth Pain Can Make Eating Difficult
Since treatment can cause mouth pain, eat foods that are soft. Cold foods often relieve the pain as well. Try:
Regular food, like meats and vegetables, can be pureed in a blender.
Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages such as sodas, coffee and chocolate. Also, avoid citrus fruits and acidic foods. Add a little bit of fat, such as olive oil, to regular dishes to coat the mouth and protect the sore areas. Sometimes adding a bit of maple syrup to foods will help also.
By following these tips, you can reduce weight loss and keep up your nutritional stores. This will help with a faster recovery.