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What should I do if the person I am caring for does not want to eat and is losing weight?

As I’ve said earlier in this book, there can be a fine line between tempting someone’s appetite, and pushing them to eat, especially when your loved one with cancer genuinely has no appetite. If your best efforts don’t work, do speak to the doctor or obtain a referral to see a Dietitian. Report the weight loss – how much, and over what period, and try and keep a diary of what food has been consumed. Meanwhile, things to try include:

  • Serve smaller portions and serve on a tray nicely presented with a napkin and maybe a flower in a vase.
  • Think in terms of a child’s tea party, with a range of tempting nibbles such as tiny egg and cress sandwiches without crusts, small biscuits (such as the gem biscuits), smoked salmon and cream cheese on savoury cheese biscuits, small home-made scones with butter and jam, roasted chicken breast with a tiny portion of home-made chips, individual steak and kidney puddings (available from the chill section of many supermarkets if you don’t want to cook them yourselves).
  • Offer snacks regularly such as milkshakes (add a dollop of ice cream) and Twiglets; a small glass of Guinness with a cheese sandwich; an individual serving of apricot crumble (make at home with dried or tinned apricots.)
  • Get together a range of TV snacks to nibble while viewing such as fingers of toast and butter or Vegemite toast, popcorn, thick-cut or home-made crisps, pieces of good quality chocolate, speciality bread such as Turkish or corn chips with a lovely dip such as guacamole, cream cheese or hummus; thin slices of hard speciality cheese such as a crumbly cheddar (traditionally eaten with quince preserve but a good quality digestive biscuit and/or grapes might be easier and less rich!)