Appetite Loss

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Nutritional Guidelines

Eating should be a pleasant experience, not a chore. Yet sometimes the daily effort required to provide the body with the nutrients it needs can feel like a chore.

Certain health conditions and side effects of medications may contribute to a loss of appetite.

The effort and energy required by work, shopping, and household tasks; and the stress that such daily activities can cause; may also reduce appetite.

If you are experiencing a loss of appetite, the dietary and behavioral guidelines provided below may help you to maintain proper daily nutritional intake.

Dietary & Behavioral Tips for Appetite Loss

With some planning and the right foods on hand, you should be able to maintain proper nutritional intake during periods of appetite loss. Try the following strategies:

  • Eat at least some breakfast every day, especially if you tend to experience low energy in the afternoon.

  • Foods that are easy to prepare, such as granola bars, pop tarts, toast with peanut butter and jelly, and frozen waffles with syrup, are recommended. For more recommendations, consult the High-Calorie/High-Protein Menu

  • Drink fortified milkshakes or try nutritionally complete products to help meet your body's daily dietary requirements and to give you energy.

  • Nutritionally complete products are available in a variety of flavors and forms (bars, beverages, puddings, soups), and most provide the calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that you normally obtain through a diet of natural foods.

  • You can find nutritionally complete products (such as Ensure, Sustacal, and Boost) in your local grocery stores and pharmacies.

  • Always keep ready-to-eat snacks on hand, such as canned fruit, crackers and cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter. Small snacks that require little time and effort to prepare provide easy ways to get nutrients you need, even when your desire to eat is low.

  • Try the frozen meals available in grocery stores. Make sure each meal includes a meat or protein source, a vegetable serving, and a fruit serving for complete nutrition.

  • Order take-out foods, use restaurant delivery services.

  • Take advantage of the times when you feel energetic by preparing large quantities of food that you can freeze in individual portions for later eating.

  • Accept the kindness of friends and family who offer to cook for you.

Alternative Therapy for Appetite Loss

Complementary and alternative therapy comprise a wide variety of practices and treatments, including the use of herbal preparations and of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, and whether you are interested in alternative therapies to prevent or treat a specific disease or to improve your general health, you should be aware that many treatments have not been thoroughly researched and scrutinized for safety and efficacy.

Although some complementary therapies (acupuncture for nausea, for example) have been shown to be safe and efficacious, others (the use of some individual herbs and supplements, high-dose vitamin and mineral regimens, and radical diets) have brought about toxic side effects.

If you prefer alternative therapies, or if you believe that you have exhausted the available therapies of conventional medicine, the information that follows may be helpful to you.

The therapies presented here, however, are by no means intended to replace standard, appropriate medical attention and treatment.

Herbal/Natural Products for Appetite Loss

The table below provides information about herbal/natural products that may be helpful if you are experiencing a loss of appetite. You can find additional detailed information about each product by clicking on the product names in the left-hand column.

Note: You should use alternative therapies to treat a specific health condition only after you have received an accurate diagnosis from a qualified doctor or other medical professional. Be cautious of anyone called an "herbalist," an "herb doctor," or a "health counselor"; these job titles are not regulated. Remember that good health depends on proper medical care.

Caution: In some cases herbal/natural products may interact negatively with other medications.

Such interactions can be dangerous. Herbal/natural remedies are not regulated and their quality is not controlled. Moreover, although an abundant supply of information about alternative treatments and remedies is currently circulating, little of it has been scientifically validated.

Consult your doctor before using any herbal/natural remedy, and remember always to make your doctor and pharmacist aware of any therapeutic products you are using. Your doctor and pharmacist can assist you in determining which herbal/natural products are safe to use with the drugs you are taking.

Table 1. Herbal/natural products commonly used in the treatment of appetite loss.

Herbal/Natural Products

Comments & Cautions



Black Currant Tea

Stimulates taste buds.

Blessed Thistle

Caution: Do not use if you have stomach ulcers.







Fennel Seed


Ginger Root



Caution: Do not use if you have high blood pressure. Ginseng may increase blood pressure.

Papaya Leaves


Peppermint Leaves


Nutritional Supplements for Appetite Loss

If you can't eat well at a meal, for an entire day, or for several consecutive days, trying nutritionally complete products and/or taking nutritional supplements may help you to meet your body's needs. Nutritionally complete products are available in a variety of flavors and forms (bars, beverages, puddings, soups), and most provide the calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that you normally obtain through a diet of natural foods. Nutritional supplements most often come in capsules, pills, and tablets. You can find both nutritionally complete products and supplements in your local grocery stores and pharmacies.

The following section provides guidelines for recommended daily nutritional supplementation during periods of appetite loss.

Vitamins & Minerals

The daily doses provided in the table below for vitamins and minerals are recommended specifically for people experiencing a loss of appetite. For detailed information about a particular vitamin or mineral, simply click on the vitamin or mineral name in the left-hand column.

Note: Units for nutritional supplements may be given by weight -- generally in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg) -- or by biological activity, which is measured in international units (IU). Use care when comparing products to ensure that the units are identical.

Table 2. Recommended vitamins & minerals commonly used during periods of appetite loss.

Vitamins & Minerals

Daily Dose & Dosage Information

Comments & Cautions

Vitamin B complex

100 milligrams before meals

B vitamins help to release energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins -- the three types of energy-providing nutrients.

Multivitamin & mineral complex

Consult the manufacturer's label.

Choose a "high-potency" formula.

The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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