A chicken salad sandwich is an option for pancreatic cancer patients looking to gain weight

Weight loss is a common problem for people with pancreatic cancer – it can be associated with treatment or with the cancer itself.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Patient Services team offers patients diet and nutrition tips that may help control weight loss, including:

  • Eating six to eight small meals/snacks throughout the day
  • Eating calorie-rich, nutrient-dense foods
  • Restricting or avoiding foods that may cause or worsen diarrhea
  • Asking a doctor or dietitian whether pancreatic enzyme replacement products maybe be helpful
  • Maintaining adequate hydration

Since each individual patient has different nutritional needs, we recommend patients consult with a registered dietitian for nutritional advice.

For today’s Friday Fix, we consulted with Maria Petzel, Jeannine Mills and Katrina Claghorn, dietitians who specialize in pancreatic cancer, about which foods to eat to gain weight. Here are their recommendations:

For protein:

  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters (as tolerated)
  • Whole milk yogurt or non-dairy yogurts (for example, those that are coconut-based)
  • Full-fat dairy products (consider also using half-and-half in place of milk)
  • Egg/tuna/ham/chicken salad on sandwiches or on crackers
  • Protein bars
  • Cream cheese

For healthy fats*:

  • Avocado
  • Guacamole
  • Olives
  • Mayonnaise

*Patients should discuss with their healthcare team, as they may need to take more enzymes to compensate for these increased fats.

For carbohydrates:

  • Pasta and grains, like farro and barley (great as an addition to soups)
  • Cereal (as a meal or snack)
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola
  • Wheatgerm
  • Smoothies
  • Potatoes/sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Recipes incorporating some of these ingredients include:

Pasta Egg Bake

Apple Butternut Squash Pancakes

Sweet Potato and White Bean Fritters

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Peaches and Cream Smoothie

Maple Walnut Granola

Contact a PanCAN Patient Services Case Manager
Contact PanCAN Patient Services for comprehensive disease information – including our diet and nutrition booklet, nutrition tips and recipes – and help finding a registered dietitian in your area.