ARTICLES / General /
Tackling Cancer & Weight Loss/
By Hilary Wright, Staff Writer
There are many reasons people with cancer
lose weight. Causes include depression,
fatigue, pain, altered taste perception, side
effects of treatment, or obstruction of the
gastrointestinal tract. Often consumption of a
high calorie, high protein, beverage may help
reverse weight loss.
Psychological distress also can play a major role
in weight loss. The anxiety that comes with
receiving a diagnosis of cancer, the intensified
feelings of anxiety and depression, and the
possibility of pain, all can cause weight loss. Once
a particular psychological issue is addressed, some
of the weight loss may be reversed.
Caregivers should try to serve a variety of
foods, since lots of nutrients from many different
sources are required to meet physical and
nutritional needs. Caregivers can help people with
cancer create a flexible, personalized nutritional
plan that will be easy to adapt to their
ever-changing needs. Following are guidelines to
help create the basis for a sound, nutritional
There are many ways to add calories, and eating
high calorie foods is a good place to start.
Caregivers and people with cancer can enjoy adding
the following to increase calorie intake:
Melt margarine onto hot foods such as toast,
soups, vegetables, cooked cereals, rice and
Choose mayonnaise instead of salad dressing
for use in meat salads, in deviled eggs and on
Serve peanut butter - also high in protein -
with an apple, banana, or pear, or spread it on
a sandwich with mayonnaise.
Top puddings, pies, hot chocolate, fruit,
gelatin and other desserts with whipped cream.
Cook with heavy cream instead of milk.
Sprinkle nuts or seeds on vegetables,
salads, and pasta, or sprinkle on desserts such
as fruits, ice cream, pudding and custard.
It can be extremely beneficial for a person with
cancer to receive extra protein, especially if they
are healing after surgery. The following suggestions
will help provide more healing proteins and extra
calories to the diet:
Add nonfat dry milk or powdered protein supplements,
like soy protein shakes, to regular milk. Also, they
can be added to sauces and gravies or used for
breading meat, fish or poultry.
Cook cereals with milk instead of water.
Use milk, half-and-half and evaporated milk when
making instant cocoa, canned soups, mashed potatoes,