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When I was going through treatment, there were always high calorie foods in the chemo suite for patients to nibble on, typically sugary snacks like cookies and doughnut holes. I asked one of the oncology nurses who looked after me about this. Shouldn’t the snacks be healthier? She said that so many patients have problems eating during chemo causing debilitating weight loss, that the nurses tried to emphasize the importance of eating whatever high calorie foods a patient could manage during treatment to keep weight on, and that aside nutrition shakes like Ensure or Enu, choices like ice cream, donut holes and even fast foods, although counterintuitive from a healthy eating point of view, were worthwhile to help patients maintain their weight. If you want to try to stay on the healthy side of eating, some of our own seemingly counterintuitive suggestions are:
- – not to shy away from eating fats, to eat full fat dairy products instead of skim for example, or the dark meat and skin on poultry
- – to enjoy high fat fruits, nuts and seeds for example avocados, coconuts – milk and oil, and nut and seed products like nut butters or tahini
- – when you feel ill, to eat foods that are easy to digest for example starchy fruits like bananas, and white foods pasta, potatoes, white bread and white rice, maybe with a little butter or olive oil if you can take it
- – when you feel well, to eat fats with healthy high calorie protein rich starches like beans and peas and whole grains, as well as with nutrient packed starchy veggies like winter squash or sweet potato.
- – Try cooking with spices to keep those chemo jaded taste buds happy.
Here are some healthier ideas for high calorie foods to help you keep the weight on