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February 3, 2001

Meal Planning, Food and Diet, Social Issues: Community Resources

Question from Pacific, Missouri, USA:

My 49 year old brother has diabetes and was diagnosed three months ago with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has a feeding tube and is receiving 12 ounces of Glucerna every four hours. We are looking for a recipe to make the Glucerna ourselves to help keep the costs down. The oncologist said that he wants us to add resource to it for extra protein. Any help that you could give us would be appreciated and if you do not have a recipe maybe you would have suggestions as to where we might obtain the Glucerna at discounted prices.


From: DTeam Staff

I am sorry that your family is going through such a trying time. I hope that what I have to share may help a bit. Unfortunately, I do not know of any recipe for “homemade” Glucerna. There is a fair amount of science behind squeezing the needed vitamins, minerals and calories into a liquid that is not so concentrated that it causes bloating and dehydration. This product is lower in total carbohydrate (only about 35% of calories) and higher in monunsaturated fats than regular nutritional supplements. It also has added soy fiber. These are the things that help it prevent high glucose peaks in people with diabetes, as compared to regular nutritional supplements.

It takes about seven eight-ounce cans daily to provide what you might call “complete nutrition,” and I can certainly see where that could become expensive, especially if your brother needs even more because of higher calorie needs. Getting the calories and nutrients in is the highest priority, and often the biggest challenge for cancer patients. If you can’t find the Glucerna at a cost your family can afford, I’d suggest talking with your doctor about what can be done with your brother’s insulin therapy to help maintain blood sugar control while using a more standard nutritional supplement (until he can forgo the tube feeding and go back to standard foods and beverages).

Another strategy is to divide up the “doses” of the supplement, giving four ounces at a time instead of 12. This should help smooth out the glucose spikes, even when using a standard nutritional supplements, as opposed to Glucerna.