Appetite and Nutrition

Woman in a wheel chair refusing to eat

Here are some tips as you care for your loved one’s nutritional needs.


Tips for Loss of Appetite or When Food Preferences Change

  • Offer smaller portions or more frequent, smaller meals.
  • If three meals during the day is not appetizing, offer nutritional snacks throughout the day.
  • Offer liquids in between meals, not immediately before them.
  • Prepare favorite foods or foods that appeal; avoid foods of non-calorie value.
  • Prepare the day’s biggest meal whenever it is most suitable for the patient (if he or she eats most at breakfast time, have the day’s largest meal at that time).
  • Try to avoid eating the largest meal last.
  • Provide a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere at meal time.
  • Eating is a form of socialization; sitting with someone promotes a better appetite.
  • Enhance flavor by marinating foods in fruit juice, sweet and sour sauce or salad dressing.
  • Experiment with seasonings, such as mint, curry, basil, oregano or rosemary.
  • Be sure to check with your doctor about any food restrictions.

Tips for Sore Mouth/Throat

  • Avoid acidic foods such as tomatoes, orange juice or salt.
  • Use a straw for drinking.
  • Try foods and beverages at room temperature.
  • Add butter, gravy, sauce or broth to make swallowing easier.

Tips to Avoid Dry Mouth

  • Offer soft foods, add liquids or puréed foods.
  • Use hard candy to stimulate saliva.
  • Sip on water as able to, including ices and ice pops, etc., unless otherwise restricted.
  • Clean the mouth/teeth by using an extra soft toothbrush or foam swab; apply lip balm frequently.
  • Avoid mouth swabs that contain alcohol, as they will further dry the mouth.

A decrease in the appetite of your loved one can be a source of concern.

Please be assured that a gradual loss of interest in food is a natural part of the disease progression. Please know that your loved one’s feelings of thirst and hunger will go away—they are not starving. Please remember to not force food or water on your loved one when they refuses it. Here are some tips as you care for your loved one’s nutritional needs.