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How to Help Children With Leukemia Eat After Treatments

Boy in HospitalWhen fighting leukemia in children, treatment plans can include therapies that affect a child’s ability to process food.

As the parent of a child undergoing treatment for leukemia, it can be hard to help your child maintain a nutritious diet. Kids can be picky eaters to begin with, but when certain foods can cause painful nausea, they can be reluctant to eat anything.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

For some types of leukemia, drug therapy using steroids like prednisone or dexamethasone typically increases appetite. To ensure that your child gets the calories and vitamins they need, feed them plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cut out junk food and sweetened drinks and snacks entirely.

When you remove processed and sweetened foods and drinks from your child’s diet while they’re taking prednisone, their increased food intake is much less likely to cause unhealthy weight gain.

Although you should moderate the amount of food a child eats during this phase of leukemia treatment, you shouldn’t restrict their portions too severely. A diet consisting of whole foods will aid their treatment.

Focus on Calories

When your child undergoes chemotherapy or radiation therapy, their taste and appetite can be altered dramatically. While it is still important to consider your child’s basic nutritional needs, getting them to eat anything can be a challenge.

During this phase of their treatment, you should design your child’s meals to pack many calories into a small package. This will help them keep their weight stable with a minimum of nausea.

Children undergoing these treatments typically prefer plain foods such as crackers, plain pasta or cereal. Work with your child to find the right combination of foods they can eat to maintain their weight without becoming nauseated. Ensure they drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.