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Weight Loss

Help with eating if you have lost weight/ a poor appetite.

This leaflet is for people who have lost weight due to their cancer diagnosis or treatment.  It has advice for maintaining a good dietary intake and suggests helpful tips, food fortification and snack/drink ideas that will increase your calorie and protein intake.  

The following advice may help:

  • Aim for three meals and two or three snacks a day.
  • Aim to include protein foods in each meal and snacks – meat, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, pulses. 
  • Have a pudding or dessert twice a day.
  • Use full fat products - avoid low fat or diet options. 
  • Fortify meals to add extra calories and protein, without increasing the volume. See ideas below/page 2. 
  • Try drinking high calorie / protein drinks between meals.
  • Drink after meals rather than before to avoid feeling full on fluid 

Your Dietitian may have advised for you to eat more high-calorie meals or foods.
Fat is one of the best sources of calories/energy in our diet. 
There are different types of fat, providing the same number of calories, however some are healthier than others. 

The following identifies healthier fat alternatives with the symbol 

Food fortification ideas  

  • Butter
  • Margarine 
  • Spreads/oils
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad cream
  • Rapeseed/olive/avocado oil and spreads 
  • Nut butters 
  • Avocado    

Can be added too 
Soups, mashed potatoes, pasta dishes, toast, sauces, bakery goods.

  • Cream, 
  • Sour cream 
  • Crème fraiche 
  • Custard
  • Ice cream 
  • Yoghurt
  • Full fat milk    

Can be added too 
Soup, mashed potatoes, cereal or porridge, fruit, desserts, pastries, cakes, milkshakes, smoothies.    

  • Hard cheese
  • Soft cheese 
  • Cottage cheese 
  • Beans, lentils, pulses, 
  • Nuts, ground nut powders 
  • Seeds 
  • Oily fish – tinned, fresh or frozen pilchards, mackerel, salmon, tuna. 

Can be added too
Soups, vegetables toast/crackers, salads, 
Mashed potato, pasta dishes, pizza, scrambled eggs or omelettes, beans, spaghetti hoops, sauces.

  • Skimmed milk powder     

Cereals or porridge, soups, sauces, custard, rice pudding, mashed potato, milkshakes, hot milky drinks. 

Enriched milk recipe 

Add 2 - 4 tablespoons of skimmed milk powder to one pint (570ml) of full fat milk and whisk well. This can be stored in the fridge and used when required.

Meal and drink suggestions

 Make the following drinks with enriched milk:

  • Milky coffee/ Ovaltine/ Horlicks/ Drinking chocolate 
  • Nesquik/ milkshakes/ Smoothies

Snacks/light meals 

  • Toast with butter/spread/jams/chocolate spread/peanut butter/ cheese/beans/ ham/scrambled egg.  
  • Croissants / cereal bars/ crumpets/ muffins/ bagels/ waffles.
  • Sandwiches with a packet of crisps.  Use fillings such as cheese and pickle, tuna mayonnaise or egg and salad cream.  
  • Omelette with cheese.
  • Cold meat with potato salad or coleslaw and a bread roll.
  • Creamy soup. 
  • Cheese/pate and crackers – add chutneys/pickles/ relish. 
  • Nuts, dried fruit or cereal bars.
  • Cakes or biscuits, welsh cake.
  • Houmous/ taramasalata/ guacamole with pitta bread/ breadsticks.
  • Crisps, poppadum, nachos with cheese.
  • Toasted tea cakes or scones with jam and cream.
  • ‘Buffet’ foods – mini sausages/ quiche/ pizza/ sausage rolls/ pasties. 


  • Yoghurt, fromage frais, ice-cream, custard or rice pots, ice lollies. 
  • Rice pudding, tapioca, semolina - if homemade use enriched milk.  Add jam, golden/maple syrup or chocolate spread
  • Sponge, fruit pies or crumble served with custard made with enriched milk, cream or evaporated milk, ice cream or yoghurt 
  • Bread and butter pudding
  • Mousse/ trifle/ profiteroles/ cream cakes/ cheese cake. 
  • Pancakes with maple syrup/ ice cream/ fruit and nuts. 

Further information

If you would like further information please contact the dietitians on; 

Phone:    029 2061 5888 ext 2214 

This leaflet was written by the dietitians at Velindre Cancer Centre.  It has been approved by health professionals and patients.  It is reviewed and updated annually.

June 2020
Version 1.0