Health Information

Related Health Information

High-Calorie / High-Protein Diet

Good nutrition is very important for children being treated for cancer. Children with cancer often have poor appetites. Also, side effects from medications may make the body not tolerate foods well. This can contribute to poor nutrition and poor growth. If a child with cancer maintains adequate nutrition, then he/she may be more likely to:

Children with cancer often have increased calorie and protein needs. Protein is needed for growth and to help the body repair itself. Getting enough calories can help the body grow, heal, or prevent weight loss. If your child is having trouble eating enough calories and protein, your child's physician or dietitian may suggest serving high-calorie and high-protein foods (i.e., eggs, milk, peanut butter, and cheese).

Increasing calories and protein:

Listed below are some ideas for adding calories and protein to foods that your child may eat for meals and snacks:

Do not use raw eggs in uncooked items. Egg substitutes may be used in uncooked items, such as milkshakes or eggnog.

What foods are high in protein?

High-protein foods include:

Children younger than 3 years of age should avoid chunky peanut butter, and fruits and vegetables with skin, due to the risk of choking.

Commercial nutrition supplements should only be used when recommended by your child's physician or dietitian. Below are some examples of supplements. Your child's physician or dietitian will suggest which ones are best for your child. Different flavors are available, including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry. Examples of supplements include the following:

High-calorie snacks:

The following snack ideas are a good source of calories for children older than 3 years of age. They can be eaten as a meal or in addition to meals.

Recipes for high-calorie shakes and drinks:


Chocolate-Peanut Butter Shake


1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 1/2 c. chocolate ice cream
Blend in blender.

Strawberry Crush


2 c. frozen strawberries
1/2 c. crushed pineapple
1/2 c. water
1/2 medium banana
6 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 Tbsp Honey
Blend in blender.

Peaches and Cream


1 c. milk
1 c. canned peaches
1 c. vanilla ice cream
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
Blend in blender.

Apple Pie a la Mode


1 c. apple pie filling
1/2 c. milk
1 c. vanilla ice cream
dash of cinnamon
Blend in blender.

High-Calorie Breakfast Shake


1 c. half & half
1 packet Instant Breakfast
3/4 c. ice cream
Blend in blender.

Grape Slush


2 grape juice bars
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1/2 c. grape juice or 7-Up
1 Tbsp corn oil
Blend in blender.

Orange Sherbet Shake


3/4 c. orange sherbet
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1/2 c. 7-Up
2 Tbsp corn oil
Blend in blender.

Old-fashioned Milkshake


1 c. whole milk
1 c. ice cream
Blend in blender.

Hot Chocolate


3 oz. milk chocolate
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
1 c. half & half
Melt chocolate and butter. Add vanilla and slowly stir in half & half, small amounts at a time. Reheat to desired temperature.

Carnation Instant Breakfast™


1 packet
1 c. whole milk

Other high-calorie drinks come ready-made and are available in most grocery stores and pharmacies, including the following:

Ready-made high-calorie drinks:


Ensure Plus®, 8 oz


Resource Plus®


Boost Plus®


Carnation Instant Breakfast™






Fast Food Shake

340 to 400

  • Print
  • Share

Contact Us