Skip to main content

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is not feeling hungry or having no desire to eat.

Loss of Appetite - Patient Handout

Loss of appetite is not feeling hungry or having no desire to eat.  


Loss of appetite can be caused by your cancer, cancer treatment, some medications, anxiety or depression, or a combination of these. 


Some of these causes can be treated, but sometimes loss of appetite is a normal adaptation to living with cancer.

Let your health care team know if your appetite is decreased.   


If you are losing weight, ask to speak to a dietitian at your cancer centre or in your community.


You can also speak to a dietitian at Health Link BC by dialling 8-1-1 from anywhere in BC.  There is a dietitian available Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm to help answer your questions.


For help coping with your emotions which are impacting your appetite please go to our Emotional Support page.  


A few helpful tips are:


  • Choose high calorie, high protein foods so you don't need to eat as much to meet your needs. 
  • Eat often. Try a few mouthfuls even if you are not hungry. Try snacking at least every 2 hours. 
  • Eat what you feel like eating.  It is okay to eat the same foods over and over again if only a few foods appeal to you. 
  • Carry snacks with you if you are going to be away from home.
  • Eat your biggest meal when you appetite is best. This may be at breakfast time rather than at the traditional evening meal. 
  • Take a break from eating to rest, take a walk or get some fresh air. Have a snack after your break.
  • Ask family and friends to help you with cooking and shopping. 
  • Invite friends and family to eat with you to make meals more enjoyable. 
  • Use a smaller plate, so the amount of food doesn't seem like it's too much.
  • Do not force yourself to eat if it makes you feel sick.

See our nutrition handouts section for more suggestions and meal ideas on topics such as:


  • Poor appetite
  • Taste changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Bowel movement issues
  • Advanced cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Specific types of cancer

Revised December 2016

SOURCE: Loss of Appetite ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Cancer. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2020 Provincial Health Services Authority