Calories Count

Dear Barbara, You say "Always always offer food". Can you write about "when food feeds the disease rather than the healthy body"? I am aware of cases where the patient's cancer is robbed the body of nutrients.

The answer to this question is yes. The food will feed the disease, and it will rob the body of nutrients. BUT you still have to eat as much as you can for as long as you can. You have to feed, and get nutrients to the body. If you don’t you will die sooner. There really isn’t a choice.

When living with a life threatening illness we are eating for two---our physical body and our disease. In most cases the disease eats before we do. If we don’t eat, the disease still does. Nutrition will not keep a person alive indefinitely. It does not stop the disease progression. If we have a terminal illness, the body will eventually die from that disease no matter how much we eat. Eating as I suggest below may buy a little time or it may not.

When eating for two, throw out all the ideas learned about nutrition and concentrate on a few simple rules.

* Begin eating this way from the moment of diagnosis until you just can’t eat anymore (and that time will come eventually).

* Eat six small snacks a day. Three regular sized meals are just too much.

* Make your small snacks high in protein. Cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese (not fat free), ice cream, one scrambled egg with cheese, a little creamed soup all are good sources of protein.

* Add a liquid, nutritional, high protein supplement such as a high protein smoothie every few hours (four ounces every two hours from the time you wake up in the morning until you turn out the light at your evening bedtime). Instant Breakfast, Ensure Plus, something that has at least 350 calories per eight ounces.

* Throw out all the rules about food choices (unless you are diabetic). It doesn’t matter whether it is non fat, low sugar, high cholesterol, low salt, etc.

* In addition to the above recommendations eat whatever appeals to you.

* We are aiming for a minimum of 1500 calories a day (that is in the liquid drink). Snacks and whatever interests you will boost that 1500 calories up to more. The more calories you take in the better. More calories means more for your body to live on.

These dietary recommendations will not last forever. At some point the body will start reducing its food intake. The appetite will just not be there. You will feel like you are forcing yourself to eat. Then you will feel like you just can’t eat. This rejection of food is the physical body preparing to die. Food is the body’s provider of energy. It is what keeps our body functioning. It is the gas we put in the car that is our body. It makes us “run”. When the body is preparing to die (from disease or old age) it will gradually stop eating. This is normal and natural.

Eating in the above way will not stop the disease process but it may forestall it for a time. Eating the above way is like an insurance policy. You may be buying a bit of time. Eating will not make the disease stronger, while not eating will make the body weaker.

Something More about Calories Count...

In addition to a guide on what to eat when you've been told you're unfixable, A Time To Live is a book on how to make the most of this "gift of time" that you have been given.

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Hi Susan, you are right, “real food” is better. I personally believe everyone needs to be eating organic, good oils, minimal sugar but that is my personal choice. In today’s society the pressure of everyday living compounded with the challenge of carrying for someone who is ill often forces us to take the easy, pop open a can, buy at the local grocery, approach. Not to sound harsh and I will probably will get push back from this statement but now is not the time to suddenly start eating organic, “healthy” foods if all your life you didn’t think it mattered. Changing how you eat in the months before death as it relates to “healthy” vs what most consider “normal” will probably not have any kind of major effect on the disease progression. What will matter is calories and protein. Blessings! Barbara


Has anyone ever looked at the ingredients on a can of Ensure? It isn’t really food! It’s second ingredient is sugar, and I’ve seen it recommended to diabetics as a meal supplement! The oils in it are all soy and corn sourced, as in GMO. Better to put some REAL food in a blender, and take a vitamin supplement.


Hi Lisa, I have not had the issue of Ensure Plus causing diarrhea but certainly with everyone’s body being unique I will not say that it doesn’t in some people. Thank you for sharing and I will remember that it has been known to cause diarrhea. Blessings! Barbara

Lisa Adamski

I love the way you used certain terms – “calorie count”, it caught my eye immediately and I could tell it was going to be a well written blog.

My only comment is that Ensure often causes diarrhea. This may not be much of a problem in some cases (constipation), however, either way it’s good to know and expect that Ensure can bring on diarrhea.

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