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3 tips to accommodate changing eating habits for cancer patients

December 30, 2020 / in Markey Menu / by Sean O'Nan, MS, RD, LD

One of the struggles friends and family often talk about after a loved one’s cancer diagnosis is the change in eating habits. Social gatherings are often filled with family favorite dishes, but for some patients with a cancer diagnosis the constant thought of food may be vexing. It is important to remember that depending on their diagnosis or treatment types, eating habits may not be what they once were – and that’s ok! The thought of eating can be overwhelming for some patients so being cognizant of their specific needs is important. 

If your family or loved ones are struggling at mealtime, consider these steps below to ensure an enjoyable meal together for everyone:

  • If food smells are overwhelming, trying preparing meals at times when the family member is out of the house or in a separate pat of the house.
    • Hint: Colder foods are less aromatic than warm foods, so consider playing around with your recipe choices this year!
  • If foods do not taste “normal”, consider including a variety of different flavor profiles (ex. sweet, salty, bitter, sour) to your table to allow for plenty of options!
  • If they are unable to eat much at mealtime, include high calorie and protein dishes to ensure they get a nutrient-dense options – make every bite count! .
    • Consider making individual servings so that patients can eat leftovers! Just remember to reheat leftovers to the appropriate temperatures before serving.

For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at UK Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian. 


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