Cancer Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not uncommon to find you lose weight unintentionally due to the impact of cancer, and/or its treatment has on your body. If you are diagnosed with cancer, depending on the type and location of cancer it may increase the body’s nutritional requirements and/or impact your ability to eat and drink what you normally would due to your symptoms, if you have any.
During cancer treatment, common side effects can include loss of appetite and changes in your sense of smell, taste and food texture which can impact your desire to eat and drink. A dietitian is best placed to help you devise strategies appropriate to your individual situation. These may include smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, and/or a high energy, high protein diet. If your usual diet is not enough to meet nutritional requirements, a healthcare professional may also recommend a nutrition support solution e.g. oral nutritional supplement like Fortisip Compact Protein.
If you experience a loss of, or change in, taste you can try the following strategies:
- Using seasoning such as herbs and spices, lemon, garlic in cooking, which can make food more palatable.
- If you have become sensitive to strong flavours, try limiting overpowering foods such as spicy or hot foods.
- If your usual diet is not enough to meet nutritional requirements, your healthcare professional may recommend a nutrition support solution such as an oral nutritional supplement like Fortisip Compact Protein.
- The Cancer Council of NSW has a detailed factsheet that can provide further advice and guidance on taste and smell changes.
Recovering from cancer doesn’t happen when your cancer treatment concludes. The fact is it can take years to regain your energy and strength. While it’s totally understandable that you want to return to your “normal” life as soon as possible, it’s important to remember your body needs time to recover and find a new normal. A dietitian can help you map out strategies and an eating plan that can adapt to how you feel, and what you feel like eating, as the months post-recovery pass. Who knows, you may discover you like a particular food that your pre-cancer self couldn’t stand! To ensure you maintain a healthy weight and get the right nutrients consistently, your healthcare professional may also recommend an oral nutrition supplement as your diet recalibrates with the needs of your body.