‘Tis the season to be festive but not everyone can eat or drink the traditional holiday foods and beverages when battling cancer and dealing with its side effects. Your doctor or dietitian may have instructed you to drink oral nutritional supplements to get the nourishment you need but not everyone likes the taste of these drinks. Listed below are tips* to help you enjoy these nutritional supplements during the holiday season or any time of year.
Think outside of the box (or bottle in this case). You don’t have to drink your oral nutritional supplements as they come. My patients are pleasantly surprised when I tell them this. Changing the way you think about these drinks is part of the recipe for enjoying them more.
Bring in the subs. Replace milk and cream in recipes with a vanilla nutritional supplement. You can do this with food and beverages. Consider making your hot chocolate more nutritious by using a vanilla or chocolate nutritional supplement in place of milk or water.
Engage your senses. Enjoy the holiday flavors and scents by embellishing your drinks. Add extracts such as peppermint, hazelnut, or vanilla. You can also sprinkle on spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. These flavor boosters have an intense taste so a little goes a long way.
Shake it up. Pour your nutritional supplements into a blender and add ice. There are many foods and food products you can add to your shake to make it tastier and more nutritious. In addition to the other flavor enhancers discussed, you can add yogurt, pudding or ice cream to increase calories and protein. If you have a lactose intolerance or problems with dairy, try using dairy-free versions made with coconut, almond, or rice milk.
Break it down. You may not be able or allowed to eat some foods in their whole form, but that doesn’t always mean you can’t break them into smaller pieces or buy them in a powder form. Crush up holiday cookies or pie and add them to a shake. Powdered peanut butter like PB2 and Jif** can also be added to enhance flavor and increase the amount of protein while not increasing the fat content. This is a good choice for those on a fat restricted diet.
Stay on trend. Just because you have to drink oral nutritional supplements doesn’t mean you need to skip out on the seasonal trends like designer coffees or pumpkin everything. Coffee, either brewed or instant, can be added to your chocolate or vanilla nutritional supplement for a warm or iced treat. If you love the taste of pumpkin then make a pumpkin shake by mixing one vanilla oral nutritional supplement, ¾ cup of vanilla ice cream, and ½ cup of canned pumpkin in a blender. Add whip cream and ¼ tsp. of pumpkin spice on top.
Glamorize your drinkware. There’s no rule that says you have to drink out of an everyday glass. Drink in style by pouring your nutritional supplement into festive or formal drinkware. You can also garnish your drink with whip cream or shaved chocolate to give it a more seasonal look.
Be creative. Use your imagination and experiment with different recipes to see what you like. Most of the oral nutritional supplements including Boost, Carnation Breakfast Essentials, Ensure and Glucerna** have recipes on their websites. Don’t let a change in your eating habits isolate you from being part of holiday celebrations.
Putting it all together. You can combine many of these tips and create a variety of different recipes, some have already been discussed. Here’s one suggestion for a holiday treat: Make a mint shake by adding a couple of drops of peppermint extract to a vanilla or chocolate nutritional supplement, add a scoop of vanilla ice scream and some chocolate syrup then blend with ice.
Cheers to the New Year. I hope it brings you gifts of good health.
*Before you use the tips listed, you should know your dietary restrictions and nutrition goals. If you don’t know these then ask your doctor or dietitian if you have any limitations on sugar, fat, salt, and other nutrients or ingredients. Always read labels to determine if there are contents you shouldn’t consume. Not all of these tips will be tolerated by everyone. Avoid foods that you know cause you problems.
**PearlPoint Cancer Support does not endorse any commercial products or services. Mention is for informational purposes only.