Difficulty eating and unintentional Weight loss

You may have difficulty eating for a variety of reasons which may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Poor appetite

If you are having difficulty eating, it is important to optimise your diet to prevent any weight loss.

Unintentional weight loss can affect:

  • Your muscle strength, as you are more likely to lose muscle than fat
  • Your immune system and put you at more risk of infections
  • Your body shape, which can in turn affect the accuracy of your radiotherapy treatment as the xrays are directed at very specific body area
  • Your chemotherapy dose – some chemotherapies are prescribed based on your body weight


Ways to minimise or prevent further weight loss

  • Food fortification. This means adding cheese, cream, butter and milk to foods which you are already eating will help to boost calories
  • Choose full fat and full sugar versions of foods to increase calories
  • Eating little and often
  • Choosing high calorie snacks
  • Nourishing drinks e.g. milkshakes, malted drinks with full fat milk. You can add 1 teaspoon skim milk powder to milky drinks to boost calories even more


Nutritional supplements

Nutritional supplements are drinks and other products which contain energy, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Some also contain fibre.  These can be prescribed if you are struggling with your eating, however you will need to be assessed by a dietitian or doctor before these can be prescribed. Please see ‘about us’ for our self – referral form to see one of our dietitians.


Please see booklets available on the Cancer Nutrition Leaflets page

Difficulty eating and unintentional Weight loss