Background: Patients with advanced cancer often experience loss of appetite and anorexia, which are symptoms with several unpleasant physical and psychosocial implications.

Aim: To explore how Danish patients and their partners experience and handle the loss of appetite in everyday life, and subsequently which kind of help they need and receive.

Method: Qualitative interviews with three patients and their partners were conducted and analysed according to interpretive description.

Findings: The loss of appetite added significant changes to everyday life for the patients and their partners, and influenced the interaction between them. Five core themes were identified: 1) From pleasant and enjoyable mealtimes, to meals you want to get over with as quickly as possible, 2) Changes in the social interaction with others, 3) Wanting to do one’s best, 4) The partner’s double role, and 5) The need for companionship. Our analysis and interpretation of the themes revealed the most significant characteristics of the changes in everyday life of the couples.

Conclusion: The interpretive description of the couples’ altered everyday life pinpoints central areas that may lead to further supportive healthcare. It demonstrates how the healthy partner feels responsible for trying to get their sick partner to eat something, how this responsibility is perceived as a burden, and how the strong desire to get the sick partner eating can complicate the interaction between the two.

Clinical implication: We recommend that health care professionals put more effort into supportive interventions and focus on the couples’ ability to cope with the difficulties handling the food, the meals and the loss of appetite in everyday life.