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How to Maintain Weight while Battling Cancer
Living with a cancer diagnosis requires making a long list of lifestyle adjustments, from those meant to reduce symptoms to those that address the side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments. One of the most important changes many cancer patients have to make is a shift in diet; without it, patients can quickly find themselves underweight and undernourished as their bodies endure the effects of their illness. Because losing too much weight during a bout with cancer can make it much more difficult to recover from the disease, patients and their families often look for new strategies to maintain a healthy weight, some of which are actually quite easy to implement. For more on how to maintain weight in cancer patients, keep reading as the experts at ENU – makers of nutrition shakes for cancer patients – discuss the topic in depth.
Why Calories Are Important for Maintaining Weight while Fighting Cancer
Any time you talk about maintaining a healthy weight, calories should be part of the conversation. Though many people don’t think about it, calories are a measure of the amount of energy in food; excess calories are stored as fat to provide a reservoir of energy during lean times. When battling cancer, this energy is of huge importance because it powers the body’s response to the disease as well as its recovery from the ravages of chemo.
To make matters worse, many cancer patients experience changes in their metabolism as a result of their illness, causing them to burn through calories at a faster rate than normal. This means that cancer patients often have to eat extra calories above and beyond their normal intake. Of course, this is easier said than done, as patients must frequently contend with treatment side effects like mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, and nerve pain, all of which can make it difficult – if not impossible – to eat solid food.
By prioritizing the importance of calories over most other nutritional considerations, cancer patients can more easily maintain their weight, although the benefits of certain nutrients (protein, for instance, which can aid healing and muscle preservation) should not be ignored either. In the next section, we offer some minor lifestyle adjustments patients and their families can make to more easily meet their overall nutritional goals.
Tips to Help Cancer Patients Maintain a Healthy Weight
Fending off cancer is an exhausting task, even with the best of treatments available, and it can easily leave cancer patients with little time or energy to cook meals or even sit down to eat. Without proper nutrition, however, a patient can become even more vulnerable to the debilitating effects of cancer and chemo. To help with this issue, the ENU team has rounded up some of the top tips on how to maintain weight during cancer:
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
There are many symptoms that could impact the routine of a cancer patient; where weight management is concerned, the biggest is probably the loss of appetite. Without the desire to eat much, many patients find their weight declining, but switching from large, traditional meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – to smaller, more frequent meals spaced throughout the day can boost your calorie intake without forcing you to eat larger volumes of food.
Keep Snacks Nearby
For many patients, hunger is something that comes and goes throughout the day, which is why keeping accessible, portable sources of calories and nutrients on hand can help with weight maintenance. A person is more likely to eat if they can grab some food whenever they’re hungry, so try keeping trail mix, nuts, chips, or weight management shakes on hand for a quick and easy boost of calories whenever you’re in the mood.
Try Shakes or Supplements
In addition to regular snack foods, nutrition shakes and supplements can serve to greatly improve your intake of calories and macronutrients. A single ENU weight gain protein shake, for instance, has almost 350 calories, plus 20 grams of protein, unsaturated fats, complex carbs, and 24 key vitamins and minerals. If you’d rather not have the added volume of a shake, however, we also offer a high-calorie nutritional powder enhanced with protein for added nutritional value.
Avoid Drinks with Meals
Although a variety of beverages can help you get more calories and maintain your weight during cancer, the timing of those drinks is important if you don’t want to limit your appetite. Drinking even just a tall glass of water half an hour before eating can make you feel less hungry, which means food and calories during mealtimes. By saving your beverages until after you eat or enjoying them well beforehand, you can stay hydrated without undermining your weight management efforts.
Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
All foods may have calories, but some offer far more (by volume) than others. A tablespoon of olive oil has far more calories than the same amount of rice, for instance, so by choosing calorie-dense foods, you can get more calories in your diet without having to eat more food overall. Consider this fact when planning your meals and you can more easily maintain your weight during cancer.
Maintain Weight During Cancer with Help from ENU Shakes and Powders
Staying healthy during a battle with cancer is never easy, but with the help of the nutritious dietary supplements and meal replacement shakes available from ENU, you or your loved one can more easily maintain their weight and keep up their strength. Learn more about all the benefits of ENU shakes and powders by visiting us online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.