Tips if you lose your appetite
Try these tips if your doctor or dietitian has advised you to follow a diet that boosts your energy (calorie) and protein intake throughout the day but you’re finding it hard to eat enough.
- Eat small but frequent meals – little and often.
- You don’t have to have a ‘proper meal’, snacks are often easier to eat.
- Try to eat something every 2 hours, however small.
- Tempt yourself with foods you like.
- Don’t force yourself to eat food you don’t like.
- Try to relax before and after you eat.
- Take your time over eating – chew well and breathe steadily.
- Cold foods may be easier to take, such as biscuits or sandwiches.
- If you don’t feel like solid food try a nourishing drink.
Nourishing drinks include full cream milk, homemade fruit milkshakes or smoothies, and drinks made with nutritional supplements. Check with your doctor or dietitian before using nutritional supplements to find out if they are suitable for you.
Aim to have 1 pint of full cream milk over the course of the day (eg 3 glasses daily). You can add a few scoops of dried skimmed milk powder to increase the calorie and protein content without changing the taste. This is sometimes called fortified milk.
Use the milk in tea, coffee, hot chocolate, smoothies, milkshakes, sauces and puddings.
Blend fresh fruits with milk, fruit juice, ice cream or yoghurt. You can also include honey and 2 to 3 teaspoons of powdered drink supplement.
These are available in sweet or savoury options to mix with milk or water.
Your doctor or dietitian may prescribe them. You can take them between meals and before bed. This is especially helpful if you are only eating small amounts.
You can buy some options over the counter such as Complan milkshakes and Meritene soups.
Non-flavoured high-energy or protein powders can also be prescribed. These are virtually tasteless. You can add them to drinks, soups, sauces, gravies, casseroles and other foods.
Tips if you feel sick (nausea)
- Think about whether there is a pattern. Do you always feel sick at the same time of day? Is there a trigger for the feeling? If you spot a pattern, you can plan your food around it.
- If some smells make you feel sick, try a breath of fresh air before you eat.
- Keep your mouth fresh by brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, or sucking mints.
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry – hunger makes nausea worse.
- Try to eat something every 2 hours, even if it’s just a small amount.
- Cold snacks may be easier to cope with than a hot main meal.
- Likewise, dry foods can be easier to face, so nibbling on crackers or biscuits may help.
- Avoid eating when you are very tired – rest and relax first.
- Try sipping cold drinks slowly through a straw.