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Nutrition for Children with Cancer

Children's nutrition requirements undergo radical changes during oncology treatment. Sufficient intake of calories and protein is crucial for children suffering from cancer as the body uses up a lot of energy in fighting the disease, which makes them weak. A balanced diet will help them to tide over the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. While proteins help to prevent infections, including more fluids in the diet will go a long way in checking dehydration.

However, as the treatment plan and response to the treatment varies from case to case, it is better to chart out an individual nutritional plan. Consult your dietician on the specific calorie and protein needs of your child.

It is advisable to give wholesome diet that is rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals to your child. In some cases, you need to use a feeding tube to effectively feed the child. As your child is prone to infections, you should take extra care in preventing food poisoning or other contagious diseases. Settle for small servings in place of large meals. Enhance the nutritional content of the servings with dollops of cheese, nuts or fruits and serve attractively. Children find frozen fruit juice treats in attractive shapes and colors quite irresistible.

You can also include high calorie snacks and protein rich food stuffs like beef or chicken in the diet. Milk, cheese, eggs are also rich sources of protein that supplement the nutritional needs of your child. Make sure that each meal provides the best nutrition to the child. Feeding puddings and yogurts should be easy, as they are tasty and nutritional and above all children find them quite tempting.

It is quite common for the children to have changes in their sense of taste or smell after chemotherapy. Poor appetite, labored swallowing, etc. are some other common side effects. Try to pick up innovative ways to feed your child a balanced diet. Some useful tips will go a long way in notching up the nutritional content of some of the common food items. For instance, try using powdered milk with milkshakes or soups or beat up eggs to potatoes or cereal.

Milk is a rich source of protein; try making milkshakes of various flavors like vanilla or strawberry to retain the child’s interest. However, if your child has lactose intolerance, you can use other sources such as spinach, multivitamin supplements with calcium and calcium fortified orange juice among others. Yogurt is normally well tolerated than milk and makes an excellent calcium supplement.

The golden rule to bear in mind is to tastefully prepare nutritional recipes that children love to eat and serve them with love so that the nutritional needs of your child are fully met.

Submitted on January 16, 2014