Palliative care provides people who have serious illnesses with a higher quality of life while they receive treatment. Through comprehensive pain management, therapy, and spiritual counseling options, palliative care teams work to ensure that patients are as comfortable as possible. Meanwhile, a team of doctors and other medical professionals will continue curative treatments to combat the illness. Many of these treatments and the illnesses they are fighting can cause their own unpleasant side effects, particularly when it comes to nutrition and eating.
Patients experiencing serious illnesses often feel a loss of appetite, have trouble eating, and deal with constipation or nausea and vomiting. This can make it difficult to eat, limit their ability to retain nutrients and improve their energy levels. While palliative care providers can help alleviate these symptoms and create the best nutrition plan for your loved one, you may consider incorporating the following easy-to-digest foods into their diet for additional support.
Shakes and Smoothies
Shakes and smoothies are soothing to sore throats and easy to swallow for those dealing with difficulty eating. They can also be an easy way to get a wide variety of fruits and veggies into your loved one’s diet. Many smoothie recipes feature spinach, avocado and other high-nutrient vegetables; and with the right mix of fruit, they’ll hardly be noticeable in an otherwise fruity and flavorful meal. Smoothies are ideal for breakfast or any other time your loved one may not feel ready for a big meal but should still get some nutrients into their system.
Other Soft Foods
If your loved one is getting tired of all the smoothies, add other soft and easy-to-digest foods to their diet. These can include soup, yogurt, applesauce, pudding, plain rice and gelatin, among others. These foods are not too heavy and provide plenty of necessary nutrients while still protecting their digestion and making it easier to eat. Speak with your loved one’s doctor about which foods they recommend, and see if you can reimagine favorite meals in ways that are easy to eat and digest so that your loved one can continue enjoying their meals.
Dry, Salty Foods
Nausea can make it almost impossible to eat when you’re hungry, much less find the energy to enjoy spending time with family and friends. Dry and salty foods can help ease nausea and make it easier to enjoy life. Keep a packet of saltine or Ritz crackers on hand if nausea strikes while out and about, and offer your loved one plain toast throughout the day if they’re not feeling like eating much, as toast can be filling without upsetting their stomach or prompting a new wave of nausea.
Clear liquids, that are devoid of materials, can help prevent constipation and improve energy levels. These consist of plain broth, popsicles, juice with no pulp, plain gelatin, ice chips, water, sweetened coffee and tea without creamer, carbonated beverages and flavored water, among others. With plenty of clear liquid options available, your loved one can feel full and energized without making their digestive system work harder than necessary or feeling disappointed by a bland and uninteresting diet.
Heavier foods can make people with nausea and digestive concerns feel sluggish and uncomfortable. However, much of this food is high in calories, which are often essential when intensive treatments zap energy levels. Fruit is an excellent way to ensure your loved one is receiving the nutrients they need without sacrificing their comfort. You can easily combine different varieties to boost particular vitamins, if necessary. Prunes, which are high in fiber, are particularly beneficial in combating constipation and other digestive issues.
Choosing a Palliative Care Provider
Speak with Kids Care of the Rockies for more information about diet and nutrition or to begin using their palliative care services. KidsCare’s specialists understand the needs of children and the importance of healthy eating, no matter their condition. The palliative care team works with families and children to create customized care plans, which include helpful information for parents on recommended foods to ensure good nutrition, energy levels and strength as their child undergoes treatment. KidsCare also provides pain management services, various types of therapy and spiritual counseling options, with additional mental and emotional support tools for parents and siblings as they help their loved one during their illness.