Cancer has been on our minds at Thrive Ice Cream recently as one of our team members has a brother with a rare cancer, causing him to lose more than 40 pounds in two months. Fortunately, his cancer can be successfully treated, but he still needs to regain his weight and strength to undergo treatment. So weekly care packages of Thrive Ice Cream are being shipped to his door. He is enjoying his Thrive and is already gaining weight!
Why Thrive? Our ice cream was originally developed for hospitals and long-term care facilities to deliver complete nutrition to people in a format – real ice cream – that is more likely to be eaten and enjoyed. Thrive is an alternative to liquid supplements that can taste medicinal and other frozen products that have very little nutritional value. It’s also appropriate for use with cancer patients as well as other conditions like dysphagia, IBS and Crohn’s, dementia, and stroke.
Supplemental foods are particularly important for cancer patients because cancer and its treatments can change how patients taste, swallow or chew food, and can temporarily change how the body uses food. Unintended weight loss and malnutrition are common among patients undergoing treatment due to loss of appetite. Thus it’s important to supplement diets with foods that meet three criteria which Thrive meets:
- Deliver complete nutrition
- Are easy for patients to consume (swallowing difficulties are common)
- Are palatable to patients and therefore more likely to be eaten
Supplemental foods are used to build a cancer patient’s nutrition prior to and during treatment, to manage side effects and also post treatment to gain or maintain weight.
Leading cancer centers like M.D. Anderson in Houston have dietitians and dietetic specialists on staff to provide nutritional assessment and counseling to cancer patients. They work with MD Anderson’s medical team to pinpoint opportunities for nutritional intervention or support. Here’s what M.D. Anderson recommends for cancer patients who have lost their appetite:
- Eat small meals, more frequently
- Take advantage of times when you’re hungriest, usually in the morning
- Do light exercise to stimulate the appetite
- Keep ready-to-eat foods on hand at home and on the road
- Drink nutritional shakes
- If you just can’t bring yourself to eat, ask your doctor for appetite stimulants
Cancer is a serious, life-threatening disease that is also very unique to the patient. Good nutrition is a must, but before you or a loved has cancer and you want to take action on nutrition, consult with your doctor first. He or she knows what’s best for you and very likely will get a registered dietitian or dietary specialist involved. Please feel free to share our name and website as we are happy to answer any questions on Thrive and its use as a healthcare supplement.