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My mom won't eat. Any suggestions?

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Won't or can't?  Those of us who have been caregivers can offer suggestions, but we will be much more helpful if we know if she won't or can't eat.  Please give us a little more info so we can better help you.



Hi faithfully your,


Like Niti implied, there are a lot of reasons why a person won't eat when they are going through treatment. Is she not hungry? Is she nauseas? Does her throat hurt too much to swallow? Does food taste funny? These are all possible side effects from treatment and the solution may be different depending on what is going on. 


If you can give us a bit more information, perhaps we can help! 





HI .

I'd be happy to help if I can.The first concern would be whether or not your mom is and can drink? We always worry about dehydration so the main goal is to stay as hydrated as possible. Does she have an appetite/feel hungry? When she does eat, does she feel sick or nauseated? Does she have changes in how food tastes? 
If we can try to figure out what is getting in the way of her eating, we may be better able to help her.

If she can take liquids, try(obviously) to put as many calories into what volume she drinks- ie. use whole milk and Carnation INstant breakfast and then add ice cream or hershey's syrup or whatever you think she will like so you put as many calories as you can into 6 or 8 oz. Try to help her to have snacks instead of meals. This is often easier for most patients.

Please let us know how you are making out and what it is that she can eat.

I will be keeping you and she in my thoughts and prayers.

Kelly O.

Registered Dietitian 

I really feel for caregivers, as it must be frustrating at times.  When I was finishing chemotherapy & radiation treatments there was a stretch where I couldn't eat or drink.  It was a combination of all the things already mentioned -- food didn't taste good, it didn't smell good, it made me feel sick, I couldn't swallow.  There was nothing anyone could do to "fix" the situation.  My doctor had me come in 3 times a week for rehydration until I could drink.  As for eating, I had to wait & "listen" to my body.  As I started eating again, I craved the oddest foods -- things I'd never eaten before.  For instance, the first thing I wanted to eat was cotton candy.  Next was vegetarian egg rolls.  One night I dreamed I was downing a large glass of ice-cold lemonade.  When I woke up, I could drink again & have been drinking lemonade ever since.  


All you can do is offer suggestions & provide whatever nourishment your mom asks for.  She may reject even foods or drinks she requests, as they won't taste like she remembers them.  Saying "You have to eat something," isn't helpful.  Believe me, we want to savor food again!   Be patient, and eventually she'll eat.  (I'm assuming your mom isn't at the end stage of her life.)  


All good thoughts & wishes to you & your mom.    


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