I’m losing weight, now what?

By Heather Knutson, MS, RD, CSO, LD Jun 30, 2017


Getting through cancer treatment is a big challenge. It’s even more difficult if you or the person you’re caring for is losing weight. Most patients are urged not to lose weight — specifically body mass — during treatment. Many factors can go into weight loss: side effects from treatment like feeling very full after having just a small amount of food, diminished overall appetite or food tasting poor.

Weight loss can also take a psychological toll. Our culture is very focused on weight loss. Accepting that weight loss is not good during this time can be difficult for some. It is important to maintain proper nutrition to keep the body strong during treatment. Good nutrition helps the body tolerate treatment better, lowers hospitalization rates and leads to better overall quality of life.

To help maintain proper nutrition treat eating as part of the cancer care plan, and try these tips:

  • Drink more between meals than during meals to avoid filling up with liquids at mealtime.
  • Eat more often and based on time of day instead of waiting for hunger signals.
  • Increase calories in the foods you are already eating.
  • Add nuts, seeds, granola and dried fruits to ice cream and yogurt.
  • Consume full-fat foods instead of their low-fat counterparts.
  • Try avocado in smoothies, salads and sandwiches.
  • Use high-calorie condiments.
  • Lightly exercise before meals to build an appetite.
  • Dine in a peaceful environment.
  • Obtain calories from less-filling liquids like shakes or smoothies.
  • Utilize oncology dietitians as great resources for information and recipes.

Please discuss any struggles with weight loss with your cancer center care team. Team members can refer you to a registered dietitian, educated specifically to work in cancer care. Dietitians can address your personal concerns and create a uniquely designed nutrition plan.


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