Parent advice

Several parents whose children have completed therapy offer the following suggestions on how to handle the inevitable eating problems of children on therapy.

Doctors sometimes reassure parents by saying, "His appetite will return to normal." Don't be surprised if this does not happen until long after the most intensive parts of treatment are completed.

Let the child control what type of food and how much he wants. In the beginning, any food is good food.

Buy a juicer and use it every day. This was the only way we got any fruits or vegetables into our daughter Make apple juice and sneak in a carrot. Sometimes we would make the juice, then blend it in the blender with ice cubes to make an iced drink, which we would serve with a straw.

I solved my daughter's salt cravings by buying sea salt and letting her dip french fries in it once a week. For some reason, that satisfied her and stopped her from begging for regular table salt at every meal.

One magic word: butter, butter, butter. We would make Maddie peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a layer of butter on each side of the bread first. Milkshakes are great and Haagen Daas ice cream has the highest fat content. We also went to an "eat when she's hungry" mode. It was definitely more relaxing.

When your child is on prednisone, don't try to restrict his food intake. It can be hard to watch these rotund little ones just shovel the food in, but once they get off the prednisone, they stop eating and quickly lose the weight. Then you have the opposite problem: how to get them to eat anything!

If you only keep good food in the house, and don't buy junk food, your child will eat more nutritious food.

Take good care of yourself by eating well. We are all under tremendous stress and need good nutrition. I gave my daughter healthy foods and glasses of juiced fresh fruits and vegetables while I was living on lattes (a coffee drink). I now have breast cancer and wish that I had eaten well during my daughter's treatment.

There is reason for hope. My daughter ate almost nothing while on treatment. After treatment ended, she ate more food but still no variety. She didn't turn the corner until a year off treatment, but now she is gradually trying new foods, including fruits and vegetables again. I'm glad I never made an issue of it.

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