for Young Cancer Patients
By Texas Children's Hospital
chemotherapy and radiation treatments kill cancer cells, they can
also kill the appetites of young cancer patients. "Children
going through cancer therapy need to eat so that they can keep up
their strength," said Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, chief of the long-term
survivor clinic at Texas Children's Cancer Center. "But sometimes
the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation can cause appetites
to decrease and parental concerns to increase."
Dreyer, who also is an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor
College of Medicine, offers these tips to help parents make sure
their children get the proper nutrition:
*Be flexible about meals. Small, frequent meals throughout the day
are usually more effective than three large meals.
*Offer finger foods children can feed themselves, such as fruit,
cheese, crackers, peanut butter, nuts and raw vegetables.
*Let your child eat when he or she is hungry. Don't force your child
to eat if he or she is nauseated.
*Strongly encourage fluid intake even if intake of solid food is
*Have your child take walks before meals to help increase his/her
*Make food fun. Decorate it with food coloring or by making shapes
your child likes. Draw faces in pancakes, add sprinkles to desserts,
or put food like Jell-O in cookie cutter molds.
*Let your child help with cooking if he or she is old enough. This
sometimes creates more interest in the foods that are prepared.
*Try eating in different environments. Have a picnic, cookout or
party with other children.
*Don't turn mealtimes into a battle or punish your child for not
*Add calories to food to make every mouthful count. Serve fried
foods or try adding some of the following to your child's meals
o Cheese, cream, butter or whole milk
o Salad dressing
o Granola or dried fruits
*Instant breakfast in whole milk is a good high-calorie supplement
to serve with meals or as a snack. For an even higher-calorie snack,
mix the following and blend until smooth:
o 1 package instant breakfast
o 2 scoops of ice cream
o ¾ cups of whole milk
o banana, orange or peaches (optional)
more information on Texas Children's Cancer Center, visit:www.texaschildrenshospital.org/cancer