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Nourishing Snacks and Drinks for Cancer Patients

What should you eat when you have cancer?

What should you eat when you have cancer?

Nourishing Snacks and Drinks

During cancer treatment, many patients struggle to maintain a healthy weight. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as nausea and vomiting, suffering from a dry or sore mouth, and foods tasting differently than normal. If patients are finding they are losing weight and are struggling to eat they should try to consume as many nourishing snacks and drinks as they can throughout the day. It is also extremely important for patients to build themselves up nutritionally prior to treatment so that their bodies are able to cope with the stresses they will be put under.

During treatment, patients may have long periods of waiting around for both appointments and treatment sessions. Traveling to the hospital or treatment center for appointments can also be time-consuming and leave less time for eating and regular meals. To avoid this impacting on body weight it is important to make sure that a good variety of quick and easy snacks are constantly available, and that a variety of these can be easily transported when the patient is not at home. Likewise, it is very helpful to have quickie meals stored in the home for when patients really don't feel up to preparing more time-consuming meals for themselves (frozen, canned, or refrigerated meals are ideal).

Useful Tips for Cancer Patients

  • Most supermarkets carry a range of ready-to-use drinks such as smoothies, fresh fruit juices, and milkshakes, so stock up on plenty of these and always carry a couple with you when you are on the move.
  • Nutritionally rich drinks such as Complan or Build Up can be prepared at home and then taken with you in a flask.
  • Avoid buying low-fat or diet snack foods and drinks.
  • If you are going to be out for some hours it is worth taking a cool bag with you in order to keep relevant foods and drinks cool and fresh. Likewise, make sure hot snacks remain hot in order to avoid accidental food poisoning.

Nourishing Snack Ideas

  • A flask of hot soup and a ready-buttered bread roll.
  • Sandwiches made in advance and kept in an airtight container, preferably in a cool bag.
  • Cakes, biscuits, chocolate, crisps, crackers, nuts, cheese, biscuits, etc.
  • Buttered Scones.
  • Crumpets, bagels, or muffins.
  • Small ready-made desserts such as trifles, mousses, cheesecakes, and full-fat yogurts.
  • Breakfast cereals served with fortified milk (whenever you are hungry, not just at breakfast times).
  • Instant frozen ready meals that can be microwaved, boiled in the bag, or oven baked.
  • Toasted sandwiches, omelets, and baked potatoes.
  • Milk-based puddings or desserts made with fortified milk, e.g. rice pudding or custards.
Fruit smoothies

Fruit smoothies

Nourishing Drink Ideas

  • Hot chocolate, coffee, or malted drinks made with fortified milk make superb nourishing drinks. Boost them further by adding cream, marshmallows, or grated chocolate.
  • Food supplements such as Complan, Build Up and various weight gain drinks are ideal to top up your calories in between meals.
  • Whether homemade or shop-bought, milkshakes, and smoothies are quick, easy nutritious drinks. Bulk up the goodness in homemade ones by making them with fortified milk and adding cream, yogurt, or ice cream. Experiment with creating new flavors by adding extra ingredients like fruit, honey, or milkshake flavorings.

How to Make Fortified Milk


1 pint of full-fat milk

4 tablespoons of dried milk powder


Add the milk powder to a small quantity of the milk and using a spoon mix into a paste.

Stir in the remainder of the milk.

Use and store as normal milk.

Disclaimer: Please note that this information is general advice only, and it is important you consult with your specialist, doctor, dietitian, or nurse before following it. Always follow advice or diets recommended by your medical team in preference to anything you read online or in books.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 03, 2013:

I am glad you found this useful torrilynn and I really hope your Mum is on the mend soon. If she is having trouble eating and needs to build herself up I suspect you might also find my other hub equally helpful and that is:

Good Luck to both of you.

torrilynn on February 02, 2013:

I thank you for this hub. I've been trying to get my mom to eat and she hasn't been. This is the third time she's had cancer in the past seven years. The first two times were breast cancer. Due to her cancer, she hasn't been eating and has been losing alot of weight. I will make sure to use your suggestions that you mentioned in your hub. And once again, I thank you.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 12, 2013:

Added tirelesstraveler :)

Judy Specht from California on January 12, 2013:


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 12, 2013:

Thanks tirelesstraveler, and thanks for the info about Rebecah Katz too. If you want to post a link to one of your Cancer hubs I will add it to the links section here too.

Judy Specht from California on January 12, 2013:

Carrying nutritious snacks whether you are going through cancer treatments is always a good idea. I especially like the idea of carrying the flask of hot soup. Rebeccah Katz in her book the Cancer Fighting Kitchen has a wonderful broth called Magic Mineral Broth that is tasty and full of vitamins. I never had trouble with my labs while I was eating snacks from her book.

Going to link this to some of my cancer hubs.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 12, 2013:

I am sorry to hear about your daughter pstraubie, I really hope she is in remission soon. This must be a very worrying time for all of your family, and I do understand what you are going through because I have had experience with close family members having Cancer, including losing my first Husband to it when he was just 48. I wish you and your daughter well.


Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 12, 2013:

thanks for sharing this. My daughter especially has trouble with eating but it is due to one type of cancer she has. She is on a yogurt and soup diet most of the time due to digestive issues.

But this information will be helpful to those who are experiencing side effects due to chemo. ps

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