fbpx Boosting Calories | CCNM-ICC

If you’ve been recently diagnosed or are currently undergoing cancer treatment, you may have noticed a change in your appetite. It’s very common to experience a loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss (especially muscle mass), reduced quality of life, fatigue, and weakness. Fortunately, there are ways to increase calories and nutrition, even when eating less.

Here are 6 simple strategies you can try:  

  1. Healthy oils! Fats and oils are calorie dense, and the good ones have other health benefits too, such as providing anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. When cooking, be liberal with adding healthy oils like olive, avocado, or coconut oil to soups, salads, smoothies, and any other foods you enjoy. You can also drizzle these oils over cooked foods, for example. 
  2. Nuts and seeds are calorie dense and filled with healthy fats and proteins. Consider snacking on a handful of almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or other mixed nuts. Sprinkle seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, or flax, onto foods like yoghurt or oatmeal. Nut butters are another great option to spread on toast, add to slices of fruit such as apples, or incorporate into smoothies. 
  3. Dried fruits are full of antioxidants and micronutrients as well as high in calories. They are also higher in natural fruit sugars, so think about combining these with healthy sources of protein and fat like nuts or seeds to minimize spikes in blood sugar. 
  4. Protein powder - protein needs increase during treatments like chemotherapy or radiation, so protein shakes or smoothies are a great way to satisfy our daily protein requirement when it’s challenging to eat enough food-sources. Protein intake is important for supporting a healthy immune system and maintaining muscle mass, which has been connected to better outcomes and tolerance of treatment. 
  5. Canned coconut milk is a great source of healthy fats and calories. Consider using this in smoothies and soups as opposed to other plant-based milk.
  6. Meal replacement, ready-made shakes. These are easy options to grab on-the-go and don’t involve any cooking or preparation. Many conventional brands contain processed, refined ingredients however we like this one available at most health foods stores and designed for people with cancer.

Calorie-dense recipes you can try: 

Author: Amira Diamond-Bier, CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre Intern