Cancer patient nutrition

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Joined Oct 2, 2019
Hi All! I work as a caterer, but am reaching out for another reason. My step dad has been diagnosed with throat cancer and Im in need of some recipes that will help keep his weight up. Chewing is out of the question, as they had to remove teeth, and swallowing is difficult due to radiation. So Im thinking high fat, high calorie based soups, soft foods, items that could be pureed and not be disgusting, lol.
Thanks in advance!!
 
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Go talk to the nutritionists on staff at the Hospital. As a patient they should have all his information and be able to help you with a diet specifically for him.
 
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So far, the nutritionist has done nothing. He meets with them every week, and all they do is take his weight and tell him what his calorie intake needs to be. There has been no meal plan suggested, nothing. Im quite frustrated, honestly.
 
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Good health for your step dad!

Like chefwriter said, hospital should give you some options, maybe even some prescription meal supplements (though I bet those are more expensive and not really as good as homemade food). I think you've got a good idea with soups. Pureed soups are good for vegetables and fats, and if you can make homemade stock, that can get good protein from the stock and soft meats.

Some slightly more specific examples: Juk/congee/rice soup, traditionally given to babies and people needing easily digestible, nourishing food. Pumpkin, potato, really any vegetable bisque, and fish or shrimp bisque. Smoothies.
 

phatch

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Ask the nutritionist questions, let her know what you need.
 
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Joined Apr 18, 2016
So far, the nutritionist has done nothing. He meets with them every week, and all they do is take his weight and tell him what his calorie intake needs to be. There has been no meal plan suggested, nothing. Im quite frustrated, honestly.
Wow that's not very hospitable of them. However, I know doctors receive no nutritional education, so it's possible they just don't have a "diet" that wouldn't work if the patient had religious, lifestyle, or medical needs.
 
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So in addition to the soup/smoothie ideas, you might look up some recipes for kids and people with gastro disorders like crohns. Things like meal supplement drinks and such. Definitely meals when he can, but if he's struggling or nauseous, might be good just to get him nutrients.
 
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Eggnog, use pasteurized eggs and heavy cream. Good calories and protein. Easy to swallow and soothing on the throat. Adjust the flavor / sweetness to his liking day by day (treatment will often mess with taste).
 
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High fiber is not desired, you are on the right track with high calorie, high fat options. Ensure and boost are the commercial options. Shakes and Malts can work and help with cooling the damage from the radiation. An ingredient that can be useful is sweetened condensed milk. Protien powder is a possible addition also.

Ask what he likes, since making him some special items won't help if he won't eat them!

Good luck!
 
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My husband was in the hospital recently for colon cancer surgery. I kept all his 'menu' sheets to help give me an idea about what to feed him when he came home. We never did get to meet with a dietician, so I used google, his menus, and how he felt as guidelines. I try to make everything taste good, and if that means butter, cream, cheese -- all the better.

Today, I made butternut squash (plus a couple of carrots) soup, roasting the veg, finishing with homemade chicken broth, and whizzing with the immersion blender. The broth came from poaching chicken breasts, which could be minced/pureed in a soup with rice. I've made tomato soup from fresh, roasted tomatoes - plus a couple of carrots to reduce the acidity and add a bit more fibre.

Think about soups, purees, creamy mashed potatoes. Soft fish quenelles. Yogurt with pureed fruit. Custards, either savory or sweet, should be ok, too. The hospital gave him all sorts of pureed veg, from cauliflower to broccoli and green beans. And yes, the hospital also gave him meal supplements, too - a couple of high-calorie boosts/day.
 
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My apologies. I should have used the term Dietitian. If the hospital is large, they should have more than one dietitian on staff. If you don't like the one you have, ask for a different one.
Keep in mind that they won't tell you if you don't ask. They may be assuming you know or understand things you don't simply because you haven't asked. So a simple question that asks the obvious isn't out of line. "Does my father in law have any dietary restrictions?" "Is there anything I should Not give him?"
If the hospital and his doctor don't have him on any restrictions like low sodium or allergens, you can probably do what you like.
You should have heard someone use the term Dysphagia in reference to your husbands' trouble swallowing.Go back and ask the Dietitian and/or the Executive Chef about providing you some food thickeners. The hospital kitchen should have some on hand so you can at least find out the brand names if they can't or won't supply some for you. And of course you can buy them online.
Buy a fine mesh strainer/tamis for anything that might have bones or chewy bits.
If your husband has trouble swallowing liquids, you can use the thickeners for just about any liquid, including juices, milk, even water. Follow the package directions for amounts to use. It isn't hard and you'll get the hang of it quickly.
The others here have provided some good menu suggestions. With cold weather arriving stews, chili, pot roasts, etc are all on the menu. Anything hearty and filling. Anything can be pureed and/or thickened. You can even get his favorite take out food and puree that.
So you simply make a normal meal and then puree it and/or thicken it.
And I'll finish by suggesting CBD oil. Smoking is out given his condition but the oil should be beneficial.
 
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I’m going through similar situation but different relationship, different cancer and different treatment. Also very different support from the medical community. We were given lots of good advice (basically what everyone here is advising) from both doctors and dieticians plus guidebooks that included recipes... lots of them. The oncology department offered access to a special dietitian with a lot of experience with cancer patients rather than the “regular hospital dietitian “.

But in the end it wasn’t as useful as one might imagine because of two things: changes in taste perception and emotional changes (in the patient). All of that made it difficult for both of us. A tasty meal that everyone else enjoyed tasted like metallic garbage to the cancer patient.

I can only advise two things. Don’t take the “rejection “ of your attempts personally, and whatever you do keep trying. You need to do whatever it takes to help the patient maintain health and dignity. In my situation we failed at weight control and chemo had to be truncated unless a feeding tube would be considered. Neither are options anyone wants to think about.

Thoughts and prayers for you Stepdad are offered, and for you too!
 
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BTW... what worked best were things that were thick and creamy. Cream-based sauces and soups; custard-based desserts. Part of the Magic seemed to be coating the tongue to get as many calories in before the wrenching started. This was the best advice offered by the medical staff and I can confirm that.
 
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changes in taste perception and emotional changes (in the patient). All of that made it difficult for both of us. A tasty meal that everyone else enjoyed tasted like metallic garbage to the cancer patient.
This is really important. If you find a bland base that he can tolerate, you can add different flavoring depending on the day. We did find smell helped narrow down some of the "not today" rejection - not 100% but it does help. If possible, have him smell the spice or additive to see if it appeals before adding it to the base.
 
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Joined Feb 11, 2007
Hi All! I work as a caterer, but am reaching out for another reason. My step dad has been diagnosed with throat cancer and Im in need of some recipes that will help keep his weight up. Chewing is out of the question, as they had to remove teeth, and swallowing is difficult due to radiation. So Im thinking high fat, high calorie based soups, soft foods, items that could be pureed and not be disgusting, lol.
Thanks in advance!!
I would put him on a quality (If possible make it yourself) Bone Broth! It has ALL of your Amino Acids that the body usually lacks. Can he have Smoothies? Keeping them simple you can also pump them up with good supplements like Spiraling, Chlorella, Medjool Dates, Chia Seeds, etc. etc. And how about juicing whole-foods?
 
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Fresh fruit juices?
Not bought, but homemade. Put in the juicer and get a thick fresh juice.
Yoghurt? With or without flavourings?
They are not meals, but they may help with getting suficient calories and nutrients
 
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Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi Hope,

To help keep up weight, you have to consider intake volume in conjunction with calories. When a person isn't hungry to start, the inside of your mouth feels sunburned, primarily during the treatment phase, you feel fuller, faster. If you track how much intake, by volume, he feels comfortable with and know how many calories are needed to prevent weight loss, you can deduce a ballpark calories per oz ingested to prevent weight loss.

Smoothies are great unless an 8oz portion is 187 calories... Use an emulsifier, with a stick blender, to allow you to add neutral oil to increase caloric values. Calories first!

1/4C of Canola oil is about 480 calories.

When weight loss is a primary concern, hold off on the high nutrition/low calorie options until after weight loss is mitigated and taste is normalized.

Good Luck!
 
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.... However, I know doctors receive no nutritional education, so it's possible they just don't have a "diet" that wouldn't work if the patient had religious, lifestyle, or medical needs.
At chiropractic college I took a nutrition class and also taught at my local community college for several years where my syllabus included at least four weeks of nutrition instruction.
 

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