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How to help your loved one consume enough calories

ParfaitCancer and its treatments can reduce a person‘s appetite, putting them in danger of losing too much weight.

Registered dietitian Maria Erdman says spreading “meals” into smaller servings of food throughout the day can help. So can eating slowly and chewing thoroughly, and limiting the amount of liquids during meals.

She coaches patients to understand that their job is to eat well.

And she lets loved ones know that job is not easy. Encouragement should be gentle.

With that in mind, add calories by adding:

  • Dry milk powder to whole milk, smoothies, casseroles, pasta sauce, mashed potatoes, egg and tuna salads, soups, cereals and homemade baked goods. This adds 16 calories per tablespoon. (*Not recommended for children younger than 2 unless under the supervision of physician or registered dietitian.)

  • Heavy cream to cereals, hot chocolate, puddings, smoothies, soups, sauces and casseroles. This adds 60 calories per tablespoon.

  • Granola to yogurt, ice cream, applesauce, oatmeal, pudding and cookie dough when baking cookies. This adds about 110 calories per ounce, depending on the brand.

  • Wheat germ to baked goods, cereal, casseroles, pancake mixes or milkshakes, or as a topping on ice cream, yogurt or fruit. This adds 25 calories per tablespoon.

  • Cheese to breads, vegetables, pastas, potatoes, eggs, sandwiches, salads or soups. This adds 100 calories per ounce.Peanut butter on spoon

  • Cream cheese to celery, toast, sandwiches and dips. This adds 50 calories per tablespoon.

  • Olive, vegetable, canola or peanut oil to soups, sauces, casseroles, vegetables and gravies. This adds from 110 to 120 calories per tablespoon.

  • Hummus or mashed bean spread to sandwiches or as a dip for vegetables. This adds 17 calories per tablespoon.

  • Peanut butter to milkshakes, oatmeal and ice cream, or spread onto crackers, fruit or vegetables. This adds 100 calories per tablespoon.

Erdman cautions that somebody who is losing weight rapidly needs to contact his or her healthcare provider.

Other key points:

Protein – Greek yogurts, peanut butter, eggs, any kind of nuts are good options to help maintain muscle mass.

Nutrition density – Choose foods that contain nutrition over foods that don‘t. Instead of consuming 200 calories of a donut, eat that many calories in guacamole, and you will fuel your body with more fiber than sugar, healthy fats in lieu of unhealthy fats, and less cholesterol.

Hear an interview about nutritional issues during cancer treatment

Read Upstate's Cancer Care magazine