Foods to Stimulate Appetite in Cancer Patients

One of the side-effects of undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer is that the appetite is often affected; most food tastes like cardboard so not very appealing. The constant nausea also generally makes one not feel like putting anything in your mouth.

Despite the many side-effects and complications caused by conventional cancer treatments, it is vital that a person with cancer consumes sufficient nutrients to help the body recover.

The human body is essentially designed to heal itself, but when it is overwhelmed by poisons, pain, and the inability to smell or taste, food might be the last thing a person with cancer wants. It is important therefore that you ensure that you choose foods for your child with cancer that will stimulate their appetite while delivering the biochemical components necessary to rebuild damaged tissues and fight against infection and inflammation. These foods should also contain properties that eliminate nausea, stimulate appetite, and heal the gastrointestinal tract.

Ayurveda, an ancient natural medicine system from India, is gaining in popularity in the West and has been useful for building up the body after serious illness. In Ayurveda, it is believed that all the senses need to be stimulated in order to enhance the flavour and benefits of our culinary choices.

Each food elicits specific beneficial factors toward the overall health of the individual, and making the food stimulating to the nose, taste buds, sight, and memory are all important. The colour, texture, and smell of individual components of a dish will enhance the flavour and stimulate the appetite.

It is especially advantageous to combine all 7 basic tastes in one dish; bitter,  salty,  sour, astringent, sweet, Pungent and Umami (a peculiar “rounded, rich and savoury” taste arising from fish or meat, which is distinct from the other known tastes – evoked by glutamic acid and its salts) as each of these tastes feeds our mind, body and our senses in its own unique way.

When these flavours also have brilliant colour, you will have succeeded in tapping into most of the senses and will therefore get the greatest response.

Mixing fruit and hot peppers in your salad with nuts and seeds to add crunch, for example, will create a greater sensory experience than just a typical green lettuce and tomato salad. Mixing the ingredients to include a rainbow of colour will also delight the senses.

Superfood expert David “Avocado” Wolfe has proven scientifically that each colour in nature has its own benefits for meeting the body’s nutritional needs and developed the “colour cure” for a simplified approach to nutrition.


Foods That Can Stimulate Appetite after Cancer Therapy

Here is a close look at some appetite-stimulating foods that will deliver important bio-chemicals to trigger the appetite in cancer patients:

  • Aloe Vera is not generally considered a food, however its healing benefits are extremely important after cancer therapy. Incl uding aloe in a smoothie along with avocado will help to heal damaged tissue and fight viral infections. Fresh aloe vera contains over 200 nutrients so adding it to your diet will help you recover faster.
  • Avocados are especially important as an antioxidant and tissue-repair fruit/vegetable. They contain natural vitamin E which is known to counter bad oestrogens and balance the cholesterol; they also meet the “good fat” requirements your body needs for energy.
  • Banana are hydrating and contain electrolytes that help to maintain health and energy. They are naturally sweet but they are balanced when consumed with dark leafy greens in a smoothie. Bananas help the bitter greens to taste better and the drink offers both the needed appetite stimulus and the nutrients.
  • Bitter Substances such as lemon juice, vinegar, sauerkraut, wine, and bitter herbs like rocket and mustard will also stimulate the flow of gastric juices and saliva to induce hunger. You can make a salad with just lemon juice and olive oil as a dressing to enhance the flavour of the vegetables.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables are an important part of the bitter foods group that increase the appetite while building up the immune system. They are high in antioxidants, and have antiviral and anticancer components. So you can feed the body with dynamic nutrients while stimulating the desire for food simultaneously. Cruciferous veggies include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and spinach.
  • Fresh made Nut Butters (ground nuts blended with a little butter) without preservatives will increase fat and protein intake while adding creaminess to your cooking. These are very important to for energy and tissue-building while recovering.
  • Gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, and whole oat groats will also stimulate the appetite.
  • Olives are also important bitter foods that contain special fatty acids to heal the body while increasing metabolism. Olive oil has been highly acclaimed for centuries as a vital food in the Mediterranean. Try to get your olives and olive oil from as minimally processed, organic sources as possible.
  • Sweet Potatoes & Carrots are important antioxidant foods that will stimulate the appetite while delivering beta-carotenoids. These are vitamin A compounds that build tissue, and contribute to eye health and digestion.


One does not have to consume a lot of these items to get the response needed. A little of the bitter foods and herbs will go a long way. Be creative by adding as many as you can to each meal for variety.



About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 24 May, 2017, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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