Weight Loss

Weight Loss

What it is

Weight loss is when you have a decrease in body weight.

Why it happens

Weight loss can be caused by cancer itself, or by side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea and vomiting. Stress and worry can also cause weight loss. Many people with cancer have weight loss during treatment.

Ways to manage with food

 Eat when it is time to eat, rather than waiting until you feel hungry. You still need to eat even if you do not feel hungry while being treated for cancer.

 Eat 5 or 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large meals. You may find it easier to eat smaller amounts at one time.

 Eat foods that are high in protein and calories. You can also add protein and calories to other foods.



 Drink milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups if you do not feel like eating solid foods. These can provide the protein, vitamins, and calories your body needs.

Cook with protein-fortified milk. You can use protein fortified milk (instead of regular milk) when cooking foods such as macaroni and cheese, pudding, cream sauce, mashed potatoes, cocoa, soups, or pancakes. See the recipe for protein-fortified milk on the next page.

Other ways to manage

 Talk with a dietitian. He or she can give you ideas about how to maintain or regain your weight. This includes choosing foods that are high in protein and calories and adapting your favorite recipes.

 Be as active as you can. You might have more appetite if you take a short walk or do other light exercises. Studies show that many people with cancer feel better when they exercise each day.

 Think about tube feedings. Sometimes, you may not be able to eat enough to stay strong and a feeding tube may be a good option. Your doctor or dietitian will discuss this with you if he or she thinks it will help you.

 Tell your doctor if you are having eating problems, such as nausea, vomiting, or changes in how foods taste and smell. He or she can help control these so you can eat better.


About Eating Hints

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of eleven agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCI coordinates the U.S. National Cancer Program and conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other activities related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; the supportive care of cancer patients and their families; and cancer survivorship.On June 10, 2017, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to appoint Norman Sharpless as director

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