Whether you are a cancer survivor’s main caregiver or a family member or friend looking to offer some help, cooking healthy meals is a great way to provide support. Keeping the person you care for well-nourished can help improve their strength and well-being, help them fight off infection and prevent malnutrition. Here are some tips to help:
Collect recipes that freeze well. The next time you cook, you can prepare larger batches of meals and then
freeze individual portions in glass containers. When you or your loved one are ready to eat, take one of the containers out of the freezer and microwave or place in an oven-safe dish and heat through. Stocking your freezer with pre-made meals means you’ll have more nutritious meals that are ready to go and less expensive than store-bought versions.
Large Appetites or Want to Avoid Gaining Weight
Having a large appetite as a result of cancer treatments or medications can be stressful for your loved one. Try preparing meals that are half vegetables, ¼ whole grains and ¼ lean proteins such as fish, chicken or turkey breast without the skin, or beans and legumes. A small amount of heart-healthy fat such as olive oil, avocado or nuts is important to make meals more satisfying and to absorb certain nutrients. Try to limit added fats to 2 tablespoons each day.
Small Appetites or Want to Stop Losing Weight
If your loved one has a small appetite or is having trouble maintaining his or her weight, be sure to choose a recipe that is high in
protein and calories to help make every bite count. Choose foods that are easy to digest and lower in fibre. Fibre can be too filling for people with small appetites.
When you’re cooking a large number of servings of a recipe, keep the recipe plain. When you’re ready to eat, encourage your loved one to add sauces, herbs and other flavours to each individual portion. If your loved one goes through taste changes or has a low appetite, they can adjust the flavours at a given meal to meet their needs.
Take Care of Yourself
Caregivers spend so much time and energy caring for others, but you need to remember to take care of yourself too. Plan ahead so you can make healthy meals for you and your loved one, and avoid eating take out or other less healthy options on the run. Healthy eating is important to keep your strength up to help you better manage the challenges of being a caregiver.
Have a nutrition question you want answered? Email me at
Christy@ELLICSRkitchen.ca or tweet me