If you’re too tired

Feeling very tired (fatigued) is a common side effect of cancer treatment. It’s often worse towards the end of a course of radiotherapy or chemotherapy and for some weeks after it’s finished. You may find you’re struggling to cook your meals and are even too tired to eat.

These suggestions may help you:

  • This is the time to use quick convenience foods such as frozen meals, tinned foods and ready meals. Remember though, to defrost frozen foods thoroughly and to cook all foods properly to avoid any risk of food poisoning. Read cooking instructions carefully and stick to them.
  • Try to plan ahead. If you have a freezer, prepare food while you are feeling active and freeze it for when you’re more tired. You could stock up on convenience foods or use a meal delivery company.
  • This is also a good opportunity to give family and friends the chance to help by doing some shopping or cooking for you.
  • If you really can’t face eating, try a nourishing drink. You can make a smoothie by blending bananas, peaches, strawberries or other soft fruit (fresh or frozen) with fortified milk, fruit juice, ice cream or yoghurt in a liquidiser or blender. See our information on the building-up diet for further advice. If needed, your doctor, nurse or dietitian can prescribe or recommend supplement drinks and puddings for you.
  • If you feel you need more help at home with your cooking or eating, tell your GP or contact the dietitian at your hospital. They may be able to arrange for you to have meals delivered (meals on wheels) or someone to prepare food for you.

‘Eating small, regular portions can help with tiredness. Starchy and high-fibre foods are best for providing slow-release energy.’ Teresa, Cancer Information Nurse.