How to gain weight after H&N Cancer treatment ends?
My husband completed H&N Cancer treatment 40 days ago. He has lost about 40lbs and we are trying to fatten him up. Any ideas and suggestions are welcome during this recovery time. Thank you.
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My husband finished treatment for head and neck cancer 5 weeks ago and lost about 30 pounds. What can we do to start putting that weight back on?
@blulady Congratulations to your husband, and to you! I hope he is feeling better now.
While I am not a head and neck cancer patient, I do have a blood cancer. I have lost almost 20 pounds since last September, without trying. It could be due to my chemo and treatment, it could be due to my failing kidneys [also on dialysis]. The plan for me is to eat when desired, whatever is desired [as long as it is okay for my kidney and gout diets!]. In my kitchen, greek yogurt is a staple, the Zoi brand which is very creamy and has several flavors. Energy drinks [Boost or Ensure]. Fruit in fresh or canned form. Protein in the form of chicken or fish. Having choices is good for when you are hungry but cannot decide [been there, done that!].
Don't aim for quantity but quality. Eat as frequently as your hubby wants. A little at a time may be all he wants. That's okay. Are there any seasonings that he cannot have? You and he can cook together! Sometimes the act of fixing food can be a stimulus to eating. Do any of these ideas sound doable?
Does your husband have any residual eating issues or complete loss of appetite? My recommendation to those trying to put a little weight back on (and few nutritionists would agree) is to eat whatever he desires. Eat a whole pie if that goes down well. After going through the battle it isn't going to make much difference at this point if the correct nutrition balance or whatever is in the food he eats. You can visit that after his pants stop falling off. In the meantime he should be rewarded with whatever trips his fancy.
Most of us have had eating issues after radiation, dry mouth, etc. Some foods no longer work. Bread for example might not be easily swallowed but if you use real butter and lots of it, yummm. Four weeks out for me my wife made me a custard pie which I ate within a day. Of course I won't do that now but back then, why not?
Let me know what his abilities are food wise and we can offer up some ideas can you? Lots of folks on this feed who have some great ideas.
Nutritional supplements like Ensure Plus, Boost Plus have nutrients and additional calories. Hoping that where he received his treatment there is a nutritionist that can give you ideas for for healthy weight gain. Along with those drinks i found ice cream to be soothing to my throat and easy to eat, Three are healthier icecream products that are lower in sugar and higher in protein as well. I but i do agree what ever can be tolerated is the obvious choice, Best wishes. Was it radiation that has contributed to the weight loss?
I lost 30lb but was 10 lbs overweight to start so trying to gain 10-15 back. I make my own smoothies with milk, fruit, and protein powder that was designed for bodybuilding. It’s called “ mass gainer” and there are several brands. I purchased one giant container from Walmart. I like the taste better than high calorie boost. One caution I was given by my nutritionist is to avoid loading up on sugars to gain weight. Most things they are sweet have no taste to me anyway so it’s easier to avoid.
Hello. 40 days post is a good time to continue with the extra calories. My hubby lost an additional 20 lbs in the 90 days following treatment. I encouraged him to eat because his body is healing which requires the extra calories. Keep up with the Boost! My husband likes the powder form mixed with full fat milk, although hasn’t continued on with it post treatment, hence his weight loss as well. Weight loss may be his future and although it is better to have a lean frame… it’s not good for healing. Physical activity is good for his appetite as well. Talk with your dietician about how to manage this going forward. His PET scan 90 days post treatment still showed some activity in his tonsil region, which may be just inflammation. They are repeating the PET scan in July. Anyone else had a first PET that wasn’t clear?
Ginger thank you for your response and wonderful suggestions. Some we are already doing and others we will give a try. Spices are a no right now especially because of his throat burn from radiation. We are trying quality but still allowing treats in moderation.
Thank you so much for your reply William. My husband is still battling dry mouth and mucositus. He is being persistent in trying to get in 3-4 meals a day. Lots of peanut butter shakes chicken turkey potatoes and gravy… he has even gotten in 2 small salads!! Good news he hasn’t been losing more weight but just hasn’t been gaining either.
Thank you Ellen for your reply and suggestions. Very helpful. He had 6 weekly chemotherapy sessions and 35 radiation sessions over 7 weeks that contributed to his weight loss. Also prior to diagnosis he lost weight because he had difficulty swallowing for about 5 months and was on liquid and soft food diet.
He’s not a big fan of Ensure or Boost so makes his own shakes especially peanut butter based ones. Everyone keeps mentioning nutritionists and dietitians but our treatment and insurance plans don’t provide for that service.
Concerned about activity on first scan. Is that a frequent outcome? His first one is scheduled in June