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Help needed in attempts to gain weight after beating Cancer

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  • Help needed in attempts to gain weight after beating Cancer

    Hey All,
    I hope all is well in the community. I joined in early spring but once the snow melts here, I go outside so I have barely been lurking. I will catch up soon as I will likely be snowed in within a month here in Cleveland.

    I have a friend who has recently beaten cancer (as far as we can tell).
    He has suffered severe cachexia and is fighting to gain weight before it becomes his next mortal dilemma. He barely has the strength to exercise (read: doesn't) and of course the Doctors and "nutritionists" are trying to load him up with "Boost" "Ensure" and other sugar-loaded supplements. Add to this that the radiation target was in his tongue and throat area and he can hardly swallow and or keep stuff down. His sense of taste is destroyed, he's 70 lbs down and it looks like there will be more surgery in his future. He states:

    "The biggest challenge I have is the radiation has severally altered my mouth, mainly the tongue. My sense of taste for the most part is gone. The things I can taste are extremely amplified. I used to love pepper now simple bland dried out peppermill pepper to like 5 alarm hot. I also have very dry making eating dry stuff like bread impossible. These symptoms may be permanent or may improve. This all makes eating something I have to rather than something enjoyable. I find myself forcing myself to eat because its such a struggle."

    Of course I am one of many arm-chair nutritionists hurling opinions at him from left and right on Facebook which can be nothing but exhausting. My personal approach to Paleo is partial to the Weston A. Price people (I know there is tension), so I have suggested things like their suggested cod liver oil.

    I would love to hear some personal suggestions as to what he may try to get sustenance, but I would also like to know if there is a "Doctor-approved" non-sugar approach for him. I've pointed him to the Robert Lustig talks and a few other things like this, but learning the competing view points of our highly controversial (in the scientific use of the word) world may be a bit much for him now.

    Any help or thoughts would be appreciated.


  • #2
    I don't have much in the way of "doctor-approved" approaches, but I can speak to the frustration of forcing myself to eat. I'm currently 8 months pregnant and have been pretty turned off by food for most of the duration. Something that helped me a lot (since I wasn't aiming to starve the fetus) was smoothies - highly customizable and easy to eat. It's no fun feeling like you have to force-feed yourself an entire plate of food, and I found it easier to gulp down a smoothie when I really didn't feel like eating. The nice part is that you can add whatever you like, and you can create diverse recipes to incorporate different nutrients. Just some ideas...I tried to stuff as much spinach/greenery in as possible, frozen berries, coconut milk or regular milk/yogurt if you're inclined, coconut oil/butter/ghee, egg/egg yolk if you trust your eggs, protein powder or primal fuel, grassfed gelatin, avocado, cacao powder, nut butter...the list could go on and on. Usually smoothies are equated with ZOMGFRUIT! but it's really easy to change the nutritional makeup of them and make them quite calorie-dense. Anyway, just something that helped me w/ the disinclination to eat.


    • #3
      I think broths and soups might be good here also. Gather up friends who are eating healthy sources of meat with bones to make bone broth. Or buy bones from US Wellness Meats if you don't have a good source near you. Lots of recipes on this site and a google search of "paleo bone broth" will get you even more.

      For soups, use the most nutritious stuff you've got - ruminants, truly pastured foul - then when the soup is made, add coconut cream, and/or butter at the end and blend in blender.

      It's in the same vein as the smoothies above, which are a great idea, but it's warm. For supplementation, find a healthy whey protein supplement and some liquid vitamins (if there's a Costco near you, they have a few liquid vitamins that don't taste like crap) and make smoothies out of those.

      Best wishes to your friend.
      "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


      Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


      • #4
        Those are great ideas, thanks! I'm actually simmering a giant bone marrow/calf's foot broth right now.

        I wonder what would happen if he simply demanded that his care providers come up with a plan without sugar.

        thanks again,


        • #5


          • #6
            Two more hearty liquids to add to the menu -- Dessert!!! Calorie bombs which would be perfect for the cool weather ahead.

            Bulletproof Hot Cocoa:

            2 heaping tablespoons clarified grass-fed butter
            1 teaspoon coconut oil
            12 ounces boiling water
            1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
            1 serving stevia (optional)
            1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1/2 teaspoon mint extract for extra flavor

            Blend together for a delicious fat bomb good for weight gain.

            Paleo Egg Nog Smoothie
            I found this on

            1/2 cup whole fat coconut milk
            1/4 cup milk (cow, goat, almond, whatever)
            2 pastured egg yolks [personally I'd add the whites in too]
            1 tsp maple syrup (honey also works)
            1 tsp vanilla extract
            pinch of salt
            1/4 tsp nutmeg
            1 frozen banana
            1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (35g) OPTIONAL


            1. In blender, combine 2 egg yolks, pinch of salt, and vanilla, and agave. Blend until well combined and a bit of volume has been achieved.
            2. Next add coconut milk, milk, and nutmeg. Blend until well combined. If you’re using protein powder, add now and blend until smooth.
            3. Next add chunks of frozen banana. Blend until it reaches the desired consistency.
            4. Pour, serve, and enjoy!
            5'0" female, 45 years old. Started Primal October 31, 2011, at a skinny fat 111.5 lbs. Low weight: 99.5 lb on a fast. Gained back to 115(!) on SAD chocolate, potato chips, and stress. Currently 111.