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Recovering from cancer - appetite now very small - any advice on what to eat?

(19 Posts)
TeriyakiWoo Thu 02-Jun-11 10:02:27

Not sure if I should post this here or in health so will post in both.

I'm recovering from Leukaemia and am feeling pretty healthy generally, apart from my appetite seems to have shrunk to almost nothing. This has been the case since I started chemo in January.

I'm just wondering is there anyone else who is experiencing (or has experienced) the same thing? And if so what do you actually eat?

Breakfast is normally just tea and a biscuit (I know that's bad!) and I can no longer manage a big evening meal (I used to be able to eat like a horse!) so just have toast or cereal. Lunchtime is pretty much the same. I know I have to eat more healthily to keep my body strong and I still like food, it's just my appetite is tiny now which feels weird to me because it used to be huge!

Any ideas for healthy snack type foods?

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Thu 02-Jun-11 10:04:50

No experience, but what about making some nice salad sandwiches to keep in the fridge? You could just have a quarter at a time as you pass through the kitchen. Maybe some pasta salad? What do you fancy? I think in your situation, you should eat whatever and whenever the mood takes you.

tomhardyismydh Thu 02-Jun-11 10:15:36

my mum had the same problem she heard of a juice diet for people recovering from treatment, there was a support group set up through her local marie curie, I think. This was a long time ago however, but maybe you could google and see what it comes up with. basically she would build her appetite through putting all veg and fruit through a juicer. there were particular combinations for certain nutrients. she also complimented this with build up drinks as she was seriously under weight. she did build her appetite and began to eat well.

CMOTdibbler Thu 02-Jun-11 10:22:23

You need to have lots of tiny meals - so tea and toast with nutella/peanut butter for breakfast, a snack of smoothie and ryvita with avocado at 10.30, pasta salad for lunch with a milkshake (full fat milk whizzed with ice cream and frozen fruit), some nuts at 3, dinner, and a late supper of a milky drink and biscuits for instance. Just try to have a little something everytime you drink.

Could someone stock your freezer with lots of little portions of things so you can just grab something you fancy that is nutritious ?

TeriyakiWoo Thu 02-Jun-11 10:25:07

Chickens - Thanks, that's a good idea. I do like pasta salad so that's a good one. The problem is at the moment I don't really know what I fancy!

tomhardy - thanks, I'll have a look on google. I definitely need to eat more fruit and I actually have a juicer (that's never seen the light of day....) so that would be a good start.

TeriyakiWoo Thu 02-Jun-11 10:28:51

CMOT - thanks for your suggestions. Yes, tiny meals are all I feel like eating at the moment. Someone could stock my freezer but that someone would have to be me and I haven't really got the energy at the moment to cook anything.

VerityBrulee Thu 02-Jun-11 10:38:04

I have a similar problem, I go through phases of having very little appetite and really have to remind myself to eat. I sometimes get through the day and reaslise I've just snacked on fruit all day and not eaten a proper meal. No wonder I have no energy!

I am really making an effort atm. I have a scrambled egg for breakfast, which is nutricious and filling. I made a large pot of vegetable and lentil soup yesterday, and have it in a container in the fridge so I can heat up a bowl at a time. If you don't have the energy to cook, M&S or Waitrose soups are lovely and as good as home made.

Smoothies are great too, the innocent cartons are good, nutricious and low effort smile

CMOTdibbler Thu 02-Jun-11 10:40:03

In that case, how about ordering from Cook to get some frozen meals in. Or isn't as posh, but I've been told they aren't bad

You need to prioritize protein, good fats, and carb in your diet to keep your energy up and deal with chemo, so beware of eating too much fruit and veg as you can fill up on that rather than getting the calories you need

TeriyakiWoo Thu 02-Jun-11 10:43:04

Verity - I had never even thought of eggs - perfect low effort food. I like your soup suggestion, gives me an excuse to go in M&S smile

VerityBrulee Thu 02-Jun-11 10:50:01

I'm sure you'll find yummy, tempting things in M&S! I know we shouldn't live on ready meals, heaven forbid, but in your circumstances I think they would be perfect until you have the desire and energy to cook.

VerityBrulee Thu 02-Jun-11 10:51:54

CMOT those Cook meals look good, yum smile

TeriyakiWoo Thu 02-Jun-11 11:01:50

Agreed Verity, those Cook meals look absolutely delicious!

eeky Fri 03-Jun-11 23:18:46

Congratulations on getting through the chemo and feeling healthy! I'm a doctor and although not a specialist in oncology, do deal with patients undergoing chemo and recovering from chemo. You need to think about firstly, eating food that is tempting and that you want to eat. Secondly, to try and maximize the calories and nutrients taken in even if it's just a snack. A bit like when you're breastfeeding? So, cheese and crackers, fruit, smoothies, flapjacks, soups (especially high protein, like lentil or chicken), sandwiches, small portions of main meals. Spicy foods often appeal to some, lots of carbs suit others better, such as good-quality bread and lashings of olive oil or butter. Posh bought salads or old-fashioned desserts can help (M&S again!). Milky drinks like real hot chocolate, milky coffee, Ovaltine, etc and milkshakes, especially home-made with ice-cream? Try and have lots of stuff in the fridge ready to pick at. Let us know how you get on.

pippitysqueakity Sun 05-Jun-11 09:48:59

When my mum was having chemo, it took her appetite and her tastebuds so little snacks of strong tasting things worked for her...olives...smoked fish...strong cheese, that kind of thing. Hope you keep on feeling healthier and healthier.

NotJustKangaskhan Sun 05-Jun-11 10:08:18

I have similar issues. I second the above about getting in some outside meals from places like Wiltshire Farm Foods. The food is excellent, and they have foods specifically designed for small appetites such as their 'hearty meals' and their 'mini meals'. Also keeping juices, smoothies, and milkshakes in the fridge can be an excellent way to add calories and nutrients quickly as well as different types of toast toppings - nut butters are very nutritionally dense.

whimsicalname Sun 05-Jun-11 16:31:45

My husband lost a lot of weight in intensive care, and came out with very little appetite. We saw a dietician together. One of the suggestions she made was to switch away from all the healthy stuff he'd normally have, so back to full fat milk for tea, full fat yoghurt, butter not spread, cream with everything! It took many months for him to get back up to his full weight though.

I agree with what people are saying about fruit and veg. Try not to fill up on that. It's hard to break our hard wired healthy eating habits, but perhaps the best thing for you is to up your calories before worrying about what's in your diet.

Good luck with your ongoing recovery!

titferbrains Mon 06-Jun-11 21:58:20

when my DD was on chemo I discovered coconut is a good calorie-dense food, so added it to a few things to help her maintain her weight - coconut powder in puddings and for you, some nice curries?? We were advise to drizzle everything in olive oil or butter - so maybe you can try eating more roasted veg rather than salad - little and often - small bits of cheese - or whatever richer foods you fancy. Also try and make yr plates of food appealing, I do think we respond better to a more colourful plate of food and it's one thing I keep in mind when I feed DD even now. Hope you are on the mend and wish you all the best.

LellieT Wed 08-Jun-11 08:57:05

Haven't read all your responses OP, sorry - apologies if I'm repeating what's already been said.

I had chemo ten years ago and found eating little and often helped. Scrambled eggs, sandwiches (made with soft white bread), soups (esp homemade ones made by mum), baked potatoes etc. I spent a small fortune in M&S.

Your appetite will no doubt come back, mine sure did.

And, ahem, I found ice cream had magical medicinal properties, who would have thought it? wink.

thereistheball Fri 10-Jun-11 08:22:59

Congratulations on coming through chemotherapy and getting better.

Here are some ideas for small things to eat that are delicious and easy to prepare:

Spreads that you can out onto a slice of toast or have with some slices if cucumber and pepper, eg humous, smoked fish pate (fillet of smoked mackerel or some smoked salmon, blended with full fat cream cheese, a squeeze of lemon and some black pepper), peanut butter (good with apple), egg or tuna mayo, pate or rillettes (I like duck liver pate, available from French delis)

Eggs - I like to do single egg omelettes with frozen spinach (1 knob microwaved and stirred into an egg), fried in butter with a scattering of grated Parmesan. Takes 3 minutes. Also lovely with mushrooms fried with a bit of garlic.

Smoothies - try banana, almonds and dates with full fat milk, or any kind of fruit with creamy full fat yoghurt. A bag of frozen red berries is useful here, as is a carton of yummy apple juice to dilute.

Soup - I'd buy these and freeze what you don't want. New Covent Garden has nice flavours, eg Thai chicken.

Ready meals - as posh as you can. Pieminster pies are delicious. I think Higgidy does nice quiches.

Small baked potatoes. I like mine with cottage cheese and black pepper.

Snacks you can have straight from the fridge: yoghurts, frankfurters (or other cooked sausages) dipped in American mustard, cheese, chocolate mousse.

I hope some of these sound appealing. I think much can be done by shopping thoughtfully. Good luck.

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