Our partners at Take Them a Meal provide a wonderful platform for caregivers and family members to help out loved ones with cancer by bringing them food during a time when good nutrition is extremely important. But, there are a lot of important factors to keep in mind when bringing meals to a loved one with cancer.
Maintain an open dialogue about food with your loved one and their main caretaker so you can ensure you are giving them the help they need. Be aware that chemotherapy and radiation can cause changes in taste, appetite, and can take a toll on the immune system; talk to your loved one about these issues before bringing them a meal.
Here are some helpful tips to so you can bring them the right meal:
1.Make sure you follow safety measures to avoid spoilage or contamination of food. The FDA has a thorough guide on safety measures for preparing foods for cancer patients that you can find here
2. Narrow down recipes to bring them by using the treatment based recipe search on our site, which will pare down recipes based on the treatment they’re in, side-effects they may have, or their dietary restrictions.
3. It’s usually a first reaction to bring sick friends or family members comfort food. That’s OK. Just make sure you are cooking them in a healthy way, and including important nutrients. For instance, you can bring them meatloaf, just make it with chicken or turkey and include plenty of vegetables. You can find our chicken meatloaf recipe here. There are plenty of ways to cook classic comfort foods in nutritious ways
4. If a friend is feeling nauseated from treatment, it can be good to bring them bland-tasting foods like Leek & Rice Soup Potato Rosemary Risotto, or even Poached Chicken. And avoid bringing foods with a strong odor, as a memory of the smell could turn them off of those foods for good, even when they’re well into survivorship.
5. You don’t have to bring huge meals. Registered Dieticians and Oncologists often recommend that patients keep small, ready-made meals around the house. Look into bringing veggie-based side dishes and snacks that are easy to put together.
6. Consider making recipes that you can then freeze into individual size portions that can easily be heated up – a great alternative for a cancer patient instead of pre-made frozen meals.
7. If someone is dealing with mouth or throat pain, or mouth sores from treatment, bring them very soft non-acidic foods. Check out our soft foods recipe slideshow for some ideas.
8. If someone has surgery near their intestinal area or is dealing with digestion problems in general, cook them foods that are easy to digest also known as the ‘bland diet’ these foods include white rice, potatoes, and cooked vegetables. Follow this link for bland diet recipes
9. It’s okay for cancer patients to eat sweets in moderation. But you can also add in important nutrients into sweet treats. Like in our Almond Avocado Pudding, Chocolate Beet Cupcakes, or Zucchini Bread
10. Remember that if they choose not to or cannot eat something you bring they still appreciate the effort!