Coping with the emotional effects of diet symptoms

You may find that problems with your digestion and diet are hard to deal with and affect how you feel.

Some people find that worries about eating and symptoms can affect their mood. People often worry about losing a lot of weight, losing their appetite and feeling pressured to eat more than they can manage. If you have lost weight you may also worry about how you look. And low mood can also mean you don’t want to eat as much.

Symptoms such as diarrhoea or sickness can be stressful and make it harder to eat. You may worry about going out in case you can’t find a toilet when you need it. Macmillan Cancer Support has a toilet card that helps you access toilets in places like cafes and shops when you are out.

Finding ways to manage your diet and digestion problems can help you feel more in control. If you are struggling at all, speak to your dietitian, doctor or nurse. They can provide emotional support as well as medical care.

Get some support

Your family and friends may worry about you, and whether you are eating enough. But they can also be a huge support.

Try talking to them about how the cancer has affected your eating and digestion, and how this has made you feel. Let them know what they can do to help. For example, some people with pancreatic cancer need smaller meals and more snacks. Others find that the smell of food makes them feel sick, so it helps if someone else cooks.

Support from Pancreatic Cancer UK

You may find speaking to others in a similar situation helpful. We have an online discussion forum where you can connect with others affected by pancreatic cancer. We also hold online support sessions, hosted by our nurses, which provide a chance to meet other people with pancreatic cancer.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with any questions about managing your diet. They can also provide emotional support.

Get support

What can I do?

  • Get support if your cancer or the symptoms are affecting your mood, or making you feel anxious, down or stressed.
  • Dealing with any digestion symptoms can improve how you feel. If you are taking pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) but still have symptoms, speak to your dietitian, nurse or doctor.
  • If you are not taking PERT, ask your dietitian or nurse whether it would help.
  • Try speaking to a family member or friend about how you are feeling, and how they can help.

Find out more about getting emotional support

We have more information about dealing with the emotional impact of pancreatic cancer in our leaflet, What now? How to look after yourself and get support through pancreatic cancer.

Download the leaflet.

Order a free copy
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Updated March 2023

Review date March 2025