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Need to increase your appetite? ABC news medical contributor and leading integrative cancer care expert offer seven easy to follow tips


EVANSTON, IL – Finding tips on how to decrease your appetite so you can lose weight is easy. Magazines, newspapers and television programs are full of advice on the subject. But what about people who need to increase their appetites? There are several illnesses and/or conditions that can cause undesirable weight loss, and necessitate an understanding of how to healthfully gain weight. According to noted author/ABC News medical contributor Dr. David Katz, “with all the attention to the obesity epidemic, we may at times overlook those situations where, in essence, starvation is still a very real and present danger.”

According to Keith I. Block, MD, Medical/ Scientific Director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, Illinois “diet plays a significant role in the prevention and treatment of disease. And keeping the body fueled with nutritious food is imperative when someone is fighting an illness.”

To help those challenged by a loss of appetite, whether it be due to illness, or the medications used to treat it, Drs. Katz and Block put together the following six tips on how to increase your appetite and stave off malnutrition.

1. If you can eat with family members and friends, do so. Let them know that you are having difficulty with your appetite and ask for their support.
2. Serve food attractively prepared and in a pleasant atmosphere
3. Eat high nutrient food and avoid junk foods and sugar
4. Eat small meals or snacks frequently
5. Add seasoning to help flavor foods
6. Shift eating pattern to coincide with appetite. For example, eat the biggest meal of the day in the morning, if that’s what you are most inclined to do.
7. With your physician’s approval, add light exercise

Studies show that increased intake of nutritious food is especially important for those suffering from cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, an astounding 20% to 40% of cancer patients die from causes related to malnutrition, not from the cancer itself.

So what kind of a diet can fight malnutrition and help a patient combat their disease? “Include cancer and inflammation-fighting phytochemicals (found in abundance in many fruits and vegetables), omega 3 fats, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, complex carbohydrates and healthy sources of proteins,” says Dr. Block. “Eat energy dense/nutrient dense foods such as avocado; nut butters; and soy,” adds Dr. Katz.

Both doctors agree it is extremely important to avoid “bad” dietary fats such as saturated fats found in milk, cheese, butter, red meat, pork, coconut, and poultry. Eliminate unnatural fats, called trans fat, found abundantly in margarine, hydrogenated oils, as well as many baked goods and convenience foods. Reduce or eliminate simple carbohydrates such as sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated sweeteners, sugary beverages, cookies, cakes, pastries, white bread, crackers and white-flour baked goods. These are high-glycemic foods that cause a sudden rise in blood sugar and ultimately increase inflammation.

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The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care and Optimal Health, located in Evanston, Illinois, was founded in 1980 by Penny and Keith Block, M.D. with a focus on treating the patient as a whole person, not simply treating the diagnosis. The Center’s research-based treatment integrates an innovative approach to the best of conventional medicine with scientifically sound complementary therapies -- therapeutic nutrition, botanical and phytonutrient supplementation, prescriptive exercise, and systematic mind-body strategies, to enhance the recovery process. Block has pioneered this “middle ground” approach to cancer care and optimal health – designing a total treatment plan that is tailored to the precise needs of each patient, using a unique set of clinical and laboratory assessments. The Block Center is breaking new ground with the creation and development of Cancer Rehab as an innovative treatment modality, and is currently the only private North American medical center using chronomodulated chemotherapy. Dr .Block is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s PDQ Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Editorial Board in Washington, D.C., and Director of Integrative Medical Education at the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago. While the Block Center is a full treatment clinic, it is also officially a CCOP site through the National Cancer Institute, and is engaged in clinical cancer research with the University of Illinois and other university facilities in the United States and Israel (

David L. Katz, MD, is a nationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight control, and the prevention of chronic disease. His ninth and most recent book, The Flavor Point Diet (Rodale: January, 2006) introduces a groundbreaking strategy for weight control based on the thoughtful distribution of flavors. He is an Associate Professor of Public Health and directs the Yale Prevention Research Center. He is Medical Contributor for ABC News, with weekly appearances on Good Morning America, and occasional appearances on 20/20, World News Tonight, and other programming. In 2005, Dr. Katz became a syndicated health/nutrition columnist for The New York Times.


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