Breaking The Habit: My Son And High Calorie Shakes

One of the big struggles that our son has had with his CF is gaining weight. Weight gain is one of the big health issues that most with CF battle. In an effort to get our son to consume a high amount of calories daily, we started him on the Boost High Calorie shakes. Over time, food was no longer an interest to him and he became totally dependent on the shakes as his source of food.

Shakes are convenient

It was easy to tell him to "grab a shake" when none of the foods we offered were things that he wanted to eat. While he was getting a ton of calories every day, he was slowly becoming dependent and missing out on real food. He was staying on track with weight gain, however, going out to dinner and even dinners at home became a battle.

Because our insurance covered the costs of having the high calorie shakes sent to our home, it was easy to place and order and know that his caloric intake was taken care of.

Finding other food options

Over time, we noticed that he would go entire weekends without chewing food and just drink his shakes. So we decided to cut him off.

We made him go cold turkey. Once we ran out of our last box of shakes, we didn't place another order. Instead, we continued to offer food and slowly he had to try new things. At first, he went to his old stand-by: nuggets, salmon, and cereal. We still offered new things and sometimes he would try them, sometimes not. Because he was forced to branch out, he discovered that he actually liked a lot more than he thought he did.

The benefits of branching out

The more he had to depend on other forms of nutrition, the more he found out things about himself, like that he enjoyed cooking. Now he is actually the one who cooks certain foods for us. He is responsible for dinner at least one night a week and he loves it. He gets to pick it out, prep it, cook it and serve it. It's usually simple meals like tacos or spaghetti, but it gives him a big sense of accomplishment. Plus, he is more apt to eat it if he cooks it.

Going grocery shopping has actually become less stressful and more fun. He picks out new things that he wants to try and he gets to have a say in his food choices. He often helps make a list and does most of the work at the grocery store. Helping to put the groceries away when we get home is still a work in progress.

Since we made the decision to stop with the shakes and make him find out more about the food he likes and dislikes, he can enjoy restaurants more and enjoy food at his friends' homes. Sure, the shakes were quick and really convenient, but if he is going to be responsible for himself one day, he needs to start learning about nutrition more and learn that taking care of yourself isn't always easy and convenient.

Does your child or teen with cystic fibrosis love their protein shakes vs traditional food? Share your experience in the comments below!

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