Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How to Get Fat Without Killing Myself

A blog reader wrote, "How can we fatten you? If you have a recipe, hand it over to me. I'll cook for you."

A number of people who've seen me lately have been surprised at how much weight I've lost. My normal weight is 45 kg. (99 lbs.). Earlier this year, my weight dropped to 38 kg. (84 lbs.).

A blog reader told me about a condition called "cachexia", weight loss from cancer. It appears cancer can change your metabolism so that your body can't absorb the nutrition you need from food. That, combined with the loss of appetite, mouth ulcers, and other side effects of cancer and chemo, lead to the patient literally wasting away. I've read that about half of all cancer patients who eventually die, do so from cachexia. We don't hear about it because we're told that the patient died of cancer. We usually don't get the medical details of the precise cause of death.

I've tried to regain the weight I lost. I've scrapped the cancer diet I was on for two years and went back to eating meat, dairy, eggs, and sugar. But I'm still not getting my weight back. I'm eating so much fatty junk food that I'm sure I'm feeding the cancer cells.

I'd like to gain weight without compromising my health. The best way would be a raw food diet, but that's too hard. I love soup, pasta, rice, noodles, cooked veggies, comfort food. I try to eat at least one raw meal a day (salad), plus two veggie-fruit smoothies a day. This is when I eat at home. When I go out, I'll eat anything, the fattier the better.

Ideally, I'd like to eat a sugar-free, vegan diet (no animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs). If you know of good vegan recipes that can fatten me up, I'd love to know about them. If you feel like cooking them for me, I'd love that even more. In fact, that's the best gift anybody could give me right now.

Eating healthy is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. No wonder most of us don't bother. But when it comes to life-and-death, it might be necessary to invest the time. I don't know whether it's life-and-death for me yet, but if and when this chemo stops working and we've run out of medical options, I'll have nothing else to turn to.


Alka said...

Hi Shin: Have you tried eating lentils (dal)? I don't know much about what you're supposed to eat or not, but lentils are healthy, full of proteins, and are a vegan food. Different lentils cooked in a similar manner taste different. You could eat them with bread, rice or just by itself. One of my favourites is lentils with salad. Can I cook some and bring for you? luv, alka

Anonymous said...

Every recipe I have is about low fat and low carb!!
But I think a place to start is to make sure you add nuts to your salad and that you snack on them throughout the day. Be heavy with the olive oil on the salad. Eat good bread dipping it in olive oil with different spices. Eat lots of avocado and be sure that you add some olive oil to it. Fry up some mushrooms in olive oil and put them on everything. Have pasta with on olive oil and garlic and add some shrimp or clams.
In short nuts, olive oil and avocados are heathy and full of fats...to fatten you up!

deb said...

I make a veg bolognaise by substituting lentils for the meat.

Fry onion, garlic and tomatoes and add the lentils. For simplicity I buy the organic tinned lentils. To give it extra goodness I add finely chopped carrot and celery.
Pinto beans are also a good thing to throw in because of their high iron content. Add tomatoe paste and mixed herbs until it's to your liking.
Serve with whole wheat spaghetti.

If you want I'll come over and cook for a few weeks but I don't want any nagging about getting the kitchen messy.

You know where I am.

Much love XXXX

Anonymous said...

With the swallowing dysfunction after my breast cancer metastasis, I, too have been losing weight. There is a very limited list of what I can safely swallow without requiring the Heimlich! Long ago, I swore off anything with high fructose corn syrup - thinking it is a tumor growth accelerant. Believe me, this is difficult in the USA, because it is in everything from soda pop to bread. Unfortunately, now most of the things I can swallow seem absolutely terrible for my overall nutrition. Tomorrow I will be having the PEG feeding tube placed, and the good thing is, I can squirt in all the liquid good food I can find - vegetable and fruit juices, protein liquids. I can stop bothering with the jello and McDonald's milkshakes. So, enjoy your food textures, Shin.

Shin said...


Good luck with the feeding tube. If you don't mind, I'd love to learn more about that from you. I've done a bit of research about it because I may need that some day soon, but I'd like to get a first-hand account from you about what it entails and how it feels.

I think some of the readers of this blog who are also cancer patients might be interested as well.

Let me know how it all goes! I'll be thinking of you! And cheering you on, of course...

Anonymous said...

I'll go in search of a recipe. Will definitely cook for you when I've found one.

Yit Peng

Anonymous said...


That's what i craved for when i got back my appetite after each chemo...pot full of yummy colorful organic goodness!

Will gladly send some over if you wish (^_~)v

Shin said...

Dear Anonymous re: Pioneer Woman salad,

I don't know who you are (you didn't sign your comment), but thanks for that recipe. The salad looks fantastic.

Problem is, it looks like you'd have to make a pretty big batch and this is one that can't be frozen for later consumption. So if you make a big batch of this pasta salad and want to share it with me, I'd be ever so grateful! And maybe I can share with you when I make it myself some day. But I warn you... I'm a terrible cook. I've burned pots while trying to boil water more than once.