What should I feed my dad to help him keep weight on?

3 answers | Last updated: Dec 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What kind of meals should I feed my dad to help him during chemotherapy and radiation to keep the little weight he's got and to gain if he can?

Expert Answers

Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, who is responsible for Caring.com's coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions.

Many cancer patients have an ongoing struggle with nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. It's really hard to see your dad lose weight as he battles cancer. Here are some ways to help your dad prevent and treat  nausea. As far as appetite goes, talk to your father about what appeals to him; he's more likely to eat if it's something he wants. Here are some more ideas to stimulate a cancer patient's appetite. Since you're worried about your dad's weight loss, focus on adding in calorie-rich foods. Milkshakes and smoothies are a great choice if your loved one is having a hard time eating solid food.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Cancer growth is stimulated with sugar so suggesting milkshakes and smoothies is a quick way to put him under. That advice is what the drs told my family to give my mother who was undergoing chemo/irradiation. Drs feel that lots of calories are great, it keeps the patient from losing weight but empty calories do NOTHING for the immune system. Consequently she died very quickly as some cancer cells evaded the treatment and then quickly multiplied on the high blood sugar these drinks caused. What should be given is veggie drinks made from greens, either blended or less preferably juiced. While juicing does provide more benefit other drinks it is less nourishing (45-50% less) than the whole veggie drink. Some low fat protein would also benefit (legumes). High blood fats inhibit the immune system as does sugar. Immunity is key. So low sugar, low fat, high veggies (fruit has more sugar so it is not as good as veggies) and some protein.

Harleyroadking answered...

I hope your dad is doing well with his treatment.

I was only 50 in 2009 when treated for stage 4 NH Lymphoma with R-CHOP chemo drugs. There are so many different kinds of drugs and ways of administering them used for chemo that it is hard to compare one persons response to another by simple terms. Even someone who went through the same exact treatment may actually have a totally different experience.

I finished treatment last year after a year of maintenance treatments of Rituximab which I deemed an unnecessary risk of possible side effects and stopped doing it.

Many people are sick before the chemo and because of the dead cell waste caused by the chemo. Some may not be able to stomach the metallic taste of some of the drugs. The drugs have an effect on ones sense of taste and some things you might usually like suddenly taste terrible.

As for myself I ate normally throughout treatment but ate what I consider to be healthy foods. Steak, Vegetables, Lobster, fish, etc.

I never got sick and did not take the nausea medicine. Luckily I was able to continue a normal lifestyle of working a week after the first treatment. If someone is getting sick I suggest they eat small amounts of food as often as possible.

I also think that trying to get out and do stuff as much as possible can help if one is otherwise physically able. Avoid the sun because of skin and eye damage and don't get overheated. I usually rode my Harley to treatment which is something I like to do. It's important to do the things you like.

Drink a lot of water. I started adding a small amount of Himalayan pink salt to water which tastes great and is very good for you in my opinion.

Otherwise do as you are instructed by the doctor and let them know if your having any problem. Hopefully there will be none.