Nutrition for Strength When You're Not Well (cont.)

Juicing Your Fruit Bowl

"Fruits have more calories than vegetables so if you can't eat fresh fruit, eat canned fruit," Pataki says. "Juicing is not a bad thing either because it is easier to drink then chew when you don't feel well," she says.

"Generally I am opposed to juicing because it takes away fiber," adds Vagnini. "I'd prefer a person eat an apple or orange, but when you are debilitated it's a very good way to get in nutrient density, is easy to do, and more palpable."

Crunching Something Cruciferous

"I recommend one serving a day of cruciferous vegetables for optimal immune function," Beller says. Whether brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, radishes broccoli sprouts, or others, cruciferous vegetables are probably one of the strongest powerhouses of phytochemicals or plant-based substances that are rich in disease fighting antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

"They should be a key player in one's weekly -- if not daily -- nutrients," she says. Sneak them into a salad or a sandwich.

Other helpful appetite boosters include:

  • Keep a food diary. "The first step is to keep a food diary or a careful food history for at least two weeks to help evaluate calories and nutrient intake better -- then show it to your doctor," Vagnini says. It also should include beverages and reflect how you feel after you eat, he says. Medications, too, should be included.

  • Be wary of nutrient thieves. "Fast food is easy and cheap and can be double trouble," Vagnini says. "These foods contain higher amounts of fat, sugar, and salt and they rob the body of nutrition," he says. Steer clear!

  • Eat smaller meals. "Eat small amounts often because most people can't manage the three-meal-a-day thing when they don't feel well," Pataky says. Even three normal meals seem like a lot to people who don't have an appetite. Also, get enough rest because people who are tired don't eat, and if you can, engage in some exercise such as walking. "Exercise improves appetite and fatigue," she says.

Published Aug. 6. 2004.

SOURCES: Sally Pataky, MS, RID clinical dietician at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., Rachel Beller, MS, RD, director of the Brander Nutritional Oncology Counseling and Research Program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif. and surgeon-turned-anti-aging/clinical nutrition specialist Frederic Vagnini. MD, FACS, medical director of Pulse Anti-aging Center in Scarsdale, NY.

©1996-2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 8:30:26 AM