NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR HOSPICE
Nutrition is an important part of our lives from the time we take
our first breath as an infant. We place great importance on
meal planning and social interaction during meal times. Often
feeding and preparing meals for a loved one is a way of
communicating love, concern and caring in a direct and nonverbal
Whenever one is ill,
his/her appetite decreases whether the illness is the flu, an
injured ankle or a terminal illness. The body’s needs for high
calorie and protein foods are less because of decreased activity,
lack of exercise and increased bed rest. Nutritious foods are
important for adequate healing.
often experience decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain and
constipation. The most common problems many families face are
finding the right kinds of foods and difficulty in getting the
patient to eat. Too often this “food struggle” may cause
tension between the patient and the family. This struggle may
be avoided by letting the patient decide what and when to eat.
When faced with a terminal illness, a person adjusts
priorities. The patient may want to spend time and energy on
relationships rather than on food. The body is much wiser than we
give it credit for and will give us messages about what we need to
sustain life. The patient is facing the end of life and the
sustaining value of food is often not important. Many times the
disease process affects taste buds and makes foods taste bland,
salty or sour.
FOOD SUGGESTIONS AND HELPFUL
small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than maintaining a
three-meals-a- day routine. Three to five meals a day of
light foods are tolerated more easily.
small portions on the plate so the patient does not feel
overwhelmed or a sense of failure because he/she cannot clean his
the times of meals. Offer food when the patient is pain-free and
has the most energy; i.e., morning, mid-afternoons, and after pain
force food at any time. This can develop into a struggle in which
family may feel rejected and the patient feels ungrateful or
meals are often best when the patient is nauseated or in pain; for
example, soups, shakes, yogurt, ice cream, cool drinks,
chips, flavored and unflavored, relieve the feeling of dryness and
discomfort when the patient no longer wants to eat or
heating dish for baby foods helps keep small amounts warm without
much kitchen preparation.
foods sometimes satisfy the need for soft, bland foods which can
be made appetizing with spices and seasonings. Spoon baby
food onto a plate or saucer rather than feeding the patient
directly from the jar.
infant’s cup with a lid on the top allows the sick person to drink
unassisted without worry or spillage.
food supplements brought over-the-counter are often tolerated
breakfast mixes can easily serve as meal.
a person is nauseated, cooler foods are often tolerated
aid digestion, elevate the head of the bed or place pillows behind
the patient’s back. Encourage the patient to sit up for 20-30
minutes after meals, if they are able to.
information may be helpful to you in caring for your family
member. Your doctor may recommend a specific diet which should
be followed if possible. Feel free to discuss this information
with your Hospice nurse for further explanation. The Hospice
staff is always looking for new ideas to assist you. If you
have any questions or suggestions not covered in the above
information, please let us know.
I. Anorexia –Loss of appetite
Small, frequent, highly nutritious meals.
Create a pleasant, relaxed dining atmosphere with
an attractive table
setting, quiet music and good company.
Light exercise, such as walking, before a meal.
Use high-protein, high calorie supplements.
Rely on old favorite foods and experiments.
Keep snacks available.
Forcing patient to eat.
- - Loss or change of taste
Use meat substitutes such as eggs, cheese, dried beans, and peanut
Use extra seasoning and spices.
Acid foods (if tolerated) stimulate taste buds.
Appeal to the sense of smell and sight when preparing
Try protein foods cold or at room temperature.
Marinate meats in fruit juice or sweet wines.
Experiment with texture, temperature, and seasoning variations
–try new foods.
Sugar tones down salty and acid foods.
Salt tones down sugar and acid foods.
Drink liquids or suck candies to eliminate bad taste.
mouth or throat
Use plenty of liquids, sauces, gravies, butter.
Choose soft or blenderized foods.
Small, frequent, highly nutritious meals.
Serve foods at room temperature.
Supplementary feedings, such as eggnog or milkshake.
Use a straw when mucositis is present.
If sore mouth is a new problem, ask the nurse to check for
Rough, coarse, dry or fried foods.
Acid and spicy foods.
Alcohol, carbonated beverages.
Extremely hot or cold foods.
Dunk or soak food in liquids.
Rinse mouth frequently.
Suck candy or chew gum.
Eat food lukewarm or cold.
Artificial saliva substitute can be used. These
over-the-counter aids are available at any drug store.
Carbonated beverages, such as Coke or Sprite
Small, frequent meals.
A light meal.
Eat and drink slowly, relaxation
Dry crackers or toast after periods of rest or sleep
Cold, non-aromatic foods such as cottage cheese and fruit, cold meat
plates or sandwiches.
Cold, clear liquids, such as grape juice, jello, popsicles, Gatorade
Salty foods, such as broth.
Tart foods, such as lemons and dill pickles
Try fresh air and loose clothing.
Fried, greasy foods or those with high fat content.
Cooked foods with strong odors.
Going for long periods without eating
Overly sweet foods
and Loose Stools
Small, frequent meals low in residue or roughage.
Eat food warm instead of hot.
Drink plenty of liquids between meals.
Eat foods rich in potassium (i.e., banana, orange juice).
Low residue or elemental supplement to increase calories and
High fiber foods, such as fruits, beans, etc.
Spicy or highly seasoned foods.
Fried foods, greasy foods, or those with a high fat content.
Gas-forming foods (i.e. dry beans, cabbage)
Milk and milk products, unless