CSN Login
Members Online: 0

You are here

Looking for suggestions to help gain weight while on chemo....

believer23
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2010

Hello,
This is my first posting - I am a caregiver for my mother (age-75) who is battling stage 3
colon cancer. She has completed 6 of her 12 treatments but is now having problems with
nausea and lack of appetite. Before her surgery her weight was 142 -today she is at 128 -
Height - 5ft. 8 in. tall so she doesn't have alot of weight to lose. She has started drinking Boost but I'm concerned.

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

as long as she's using Boost as additional meals, not as replacement meals! Also, you can use the vanilla boost in recipes that call for milk that will add additional calories. Smoothies made with boost and fruit can add tasty calories. Her onc can prescribe medicine that will increase her appetite as well and it works really well.
mary

Trapbear's picture
Trapbear
Posts: 109
Joined: Sep 2009

I would try not to rely too much on boost, ensure, etc. They are full of high fructose corn syrup, sugar, no nutrients. Our oncology nutritionist calls them "cancer fertilizer". He is always amazed when he sees oncology pts in the hospital getting boost and ensure. Better to rely on healthier foods, whole grains, beans, vegetables, good fats, etc.
Bill

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Bill:

Yours in another interesting post.

I've had my husband on a low-fat, low-sugar diet for a very long time. His current serious recurrence and weight loss has, however, panicked me. In my rush to stop his weight loss, I've continued the Boost/Ensure regimen that started for him in the hospital. Actually, I've upped the ante by turning to the Boost/Ensure Plus with more calories and fat. Boost/Ensure has the advantage for my husband of being fairly easy to tolerate.

Also, I've moved from our vegan diet to full fat cheeses, organic eggs and some fish for him (salmon and tuna). In the last week, with the increase in fat in his diet (and the addition of a medicine the oncologist gave us to increase his appetite), I'm glad to say that his weight has stabilized and even increased a bit.

I've been concerned about the sugars in the Boost/Ensure supplement and now your post quoting your nutritionist about "cancer fertilizer" raises my concerns again.

Can you share some more of his/her suggestions for healthy and safe weight gain? Is there some kind of healthy, perhaps home-made alternative to Boost/Ensure--high in calories but easy to tolerate?

Hatshepsut

Trapbear's picture
Trapbear
Posts: 109
Joined: Sep 2009

Our nutritionist highly recommended Rebecca Katz's book "The Cancer Fighting Kitchen" She also has a book "One Bite at a Time". We actually took a class this past weekend where she was a speaker and gave a cooking demo, talked about nutrition and cancer. We got a copy of her book and are going to try adding some of her recipes to our repertoire. It will be a an adjustment, basically no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no "white" grain, no meat. Fish high in omega 3 is ok. The key is phytonutrients, eat the rainbow, etc. As far as adding good calories, she suggests layering...for example, serve whole grain crackers with avocado, other high calorie good fat (omega 9 or omega 3) fats. She is a wonderful speaker, worth seeing if she is ever in your city.....
Here is a link to her latest book....
http://rebeccakatz.com/books/cancer_fighting_kitchen.html

Good luck!
Bill

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Thank you for answering my post.

I'll check out the books you recommend. ( I'm a cookbook collector in any event.)

If you have any other information as you proceed with this dietary approach and you have the time to post, I would be very grateful.

Hatshepsut

believer23
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2010

Bill,
Thank you for taking the time to share this information.
I am going to the library tonight to look for these books.
Safe Travels

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2120
Joined: Oct 2009

Ensure is another drink that gives her the nutrients she needs. My hubby liked the chocolate. Tell the oncologist that she has a lot of nausea and he can change up her nausea med at infusion time. I don't know what she is getting but my hubby had an IV of Anzamet at infusion time prior to the Oxi and Avastin and he did not experience any nausea and never lost his appetite. He did not have to take nausea pills at home before or after infusions. Many people do. There are lots of nausea medications out there and people on the board have used many different types. As far as appetite, at this point, if it were me, my opinion only, I would just give her anything that she has a taste for. Get the old Betty Crocker Cookbook out and there is a recipe for baked custard (very, very easy). George found this went down particularly well after surgery and I often made it during his chemo. It is very creamy, very easy to make, and has no junk in it like box pudding. Just a thought.

If weight continues to be a probelm ask for a referral to a nutritionist.

Take care - Tina

Paula G.'s picture
Paula G.
Posts: 596
Joined: Apr 2009

You might try juicing. It will give her lots of nutrients and may taste good to her. I agree with Tina about talking to the Onc about the nausea. Also you may want to try talking to a nutritionist they can offer tips that are good for her. Paula

Anonymous user (not verified)

This comment has been removed by the Moderator

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

Last year, when I was battling the cancer, I got to a skeletol 90 lbs. I had no appetite, mouth sores from chemo, I could only eat "slippery foods" so it was milkshakes, mashed potatoes and soups. etc..I had an ileostomy and I am convinced that was the primary reason I couldn't keep weight on.

In one of my hospitilizations last fall, I had to get fed through a tube, it was horrible.

I'm surprised that no one suggested trying Megace at some point.

believer23
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2010

Tina,
Thank you for the information - I plan on making the baked custard this weekend.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

And, I ate little bits whenever I was the least bit hungry...

Losing weight is normal during treatment...but keep her eating is also good!

Hugs, Kathi

greybeard64's picture
greybeard64
Posts: 254
Joined: Mar 2010

I never liked the taste of ensure and during treatments there was no way i could keep it down. For me Carnation instant breakfast worked, has all the ingredients of ensure and then some, and its cheaper.
greybeard

lizzydavis's picture
lizzydavis
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

Chocolate was what I enjoyed and ate. Pudding with whole milk. Lots of pasta with cheese and tomato sauce (Ziti) with no meat. Hard lemon candy for nauseau and works for weight. Ice cream. Fruit juices (grape, apple and pineapple).

I have found that with my 88 year old mother-in-law that if I ask her if she wants something to drink, she says no thank you. If I pour her a glass of grape juice and tell her I poured it for her -- she drinks it all and enjoys it. (She has had a problem with dehydration - no cancer).

Good luck.

believer23
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2010

Thank you so much for taking the time to response and sharing
your experience.
Safe Travels

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

I drank carnation instant breakfast with whole milk 2-3 times a day, one of the few things i could tolerate. The nutritionist at my hospital preferre this to Ensure or Booste as well.

Subscribe to Comments for "Looking for suggestions to help gain weight while on chemo...."