Color & Control:

Tips for Coping with a Poor Appetite

By Christine Stewart

When people are ill or recovering from an injury or surgery, they often suffer from loss of appetite that leads to serious and progressive weight loss. Follow these tips to enhance appetite for the person you are caring for:

Ask the person what makes their appetite better (or worse). Certain foods or drinks? Eating or drinking in a particular location?

Serve smaller meals more frequently throughout the day based on what the person can tolerate. Providing large meals may overwhelm them and cause them to avoid eating altogether.

Aim to make all meals and snacks nutritious and nourishing. This can speed the healing process and give the necessary strength the person you’re caring for needs. 

Talk to the doctor or pharmacist about the value of nutritional supplements. Find out if replacing meals with nourishing energy or supplement drinks would be more beneficial.

Give favourite foods often and incorporate ingredients that increase the meal’s nutritional value.

A person may develop swallowing difficulties or dysphagia from a stroke, throat or mouth cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), different neurological conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, developmental disability, or side effects of medication. A speech language pathologist should always be consulted to assess swallowing function, appropriate care, exercises and other feeding and swallowing strategies.

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