Cancer patients with eating problems may find the following tips for handling breakfast, lunch and dinner helpful. The tips come from Nora Tolentino, clinical dietitian in charge of oncology at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Overall, Tolentino suggests boosting protein and calorie content of meals by adding eggnog for breakfast. "Try also to incorporate extra calories in vegetable dishes by adding margarine or cream sauce to them. If the patient feels that he or she is not getting enough nutrients from the diet, dietary supplements in form of drinks can add 200 to 360 calories per meal."
"You want to push a heavy breakfast," Tolentino says. "It seems to be the best meal of the day, so make it as substantial as possible. If the patient can't eat eggs, try a mixed protein powder drink, and instead of milk try yogurt. Add cream for extra calories in cereals. If whole fruit is not tolerated, prepare an orange juice drink made with egg powder. Fresh eggs should be avoided as a safety precaution against contamination. If no breakfast can be tolerated, have a 10 a.m. commercial supplement drink or milkshake."
Suggested breakfast menu:
\o7 Nectar juice (high in calories)
Soft-cooked or poached egg (not fried)
Toast or roll
Milk (use part of it for cereal)
"Don't attempt large portions for lunch or dinner because most patients get turned off when they see a big tray," she said. "Loss of taste for certain foods, especially meat, and difficulty with chewing may call for very soft foods and not too hot beverages. Some patients will refuse to eat solid foods, so you must resort to supplements in drink form. If the patient won't eat meat, try tuna salad, grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt with fruit, a casserole with macaroni and cheese or omelet. Chicken seems to be accepted by most, so it can be baked, or prepared as chicken a la king, chicken salad or sandwich."
Suggested lunch menu:
Soup (use any kind, but creamed soups add a few extra calories)
Cottage cheese or fruit-bowl plate using canned fruit if softer foods are appropriate
Fruit-flavored gelatin dessert
Dinner roll or crackers
Decaffeinated coffee or tea or 4 ounces milk
Chicken or fish (baked, with gravy added on the side)
Fruit or small serving vegetable (spinach, carrots or mixed vegetables)
Ice cream or sherbet
Milkshake, custard or pudding.