Blessing someone will often immediately bring one question to mind: What meal can I deliver? However, here’s a stumper:
Sometimes Nothing Sounds Good
Lately I’ve been in several conversations about lack of appetite. Most of us find it hard to imagine, but over and over others have reported to me that not having an appetite is more difficult to manage than having too much of an appetite.
There are various reasons the appetite leaves — age, illness, grief, depression, and more. For instance, certain medicines and surgical anesthesia can affect the taste buds. During chemotherapy, food may not taste right. Nausea is another issue making food less appealing.
If you love to bring meals but your someone is unenthused or leaving meals uneaten, one tactic is to start from scratch and help identify simple, basic foods your someone might be willing or able to try. Maybe you’ll be able to put together a tote bag or basket filled with an assortment of simple things to try.
Here are foods that I’ve seen work on difficult days, for different people:
- Toast, possibly with a variety of breads to try
- Saltines or a variety of crackers to try, possibly with cheese or peanut butter
- Eggs — egg salad, hard boiled, scrambled, over easy with toast, deviled (even crème brûlée — a dialysis nurse suggested this as a way to get in some egg protein, and it worked well when Shane needed it)
- Steak or favorite cuts of meat served plain (Shane’s dad brought him steaks to try to get some protein into him)
- Plain, small hamburgers (e.g. fast food children’s meals)
- Plain tuna (individual serving options are available)
- Lettuce (my sister-in-law could tolerate odor-free iceberg lettuce on her worst days)
- Fairly bland fruits such as diced peaches, dried blueberries, or applesauce (homemade was a special gift to help Shane’s pills go down)
- Cream of Wheat (this hot cereal contains protein and other nutrients)
- Pudding (experiment with ready-made, Instant, Cook & Serve, vs. homemade)
- Smoothies (on chemo, my sister would load up the blender with diced strawberries, a banana, frozen blueberries, milk or orange juice, ice if the fruit wasn’t frozen; others add vanilla yogurt, honey, protein powder, and more); left-overs can be frozen for another day
- Protein bars or a variety of cereal bars to try
- Boost, Ensure, and other nutrition drinks (Nepro is for those on dialysis)
- Weight gain shakes and supplements (doctors may want to review ingredients, but at a certain point any calories are better than no calories)
- Soft Jell-O or sherbet in a favorite flavor (Jell-O cooked on the stove can be watered down a little, so it is softer than the pre-made containers)
- Yogurt (some have strains of active bacteria which might help with stomach problems)
- If all else fails, try comfort foods like donuts or milkshakes (there are times when anything is worth a try… you can always ask the doctor if you have concerns)
You might start with gentle foods and expand towards comfort foods as needed, in the hopes that your someone will discover a group of foods he can tolerate even on his worst days.
It is worth offering a variety of options, since responses can vary widely. During similar chemo treatments, Shane’s sister found she could only eat totally bland foods, whereas my sister only had a taste for sweets (which wasn’t normal for her).
Getting your someone to eat is important to his health, strength, and emotional well-being. Any effort in this area is valuable. In a later blog, we can discuss ways to encourage or motivate someone to try the foods we bring, ways to adapt for various food restrictions, and more… For now, it is a blessing to bring something simple to try when nothing tastes good.
Blog #20, COMMENT BELOW: Have certain foods worked well for you?