Non-dairy, High-calorie Drink for a Senior Who's Losing Weight

Updated on September 20, 2016
F.R. asks from Astoria, OR
14 answers

Hi All,
My father-in-law has been losing a lot of weight and feeling very sluggish recently. The doctor recommended that he drink milkshakes to boost his calorie intake without having to eat another meal. The trouble is that he doesn't do well with dairy products and doesn't care for sweets. I've been trying to think of an alternative, but haven't been able to come up with much, other than broth. Please give me your suggestions! It needs to be non-dairy, high-calorie, liquid and not too sweet.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great responses! I'm not sure whether it's the milk protein or the lactose that bothers his stomach. I suspect it's the lactose that irritates his stomach ulcers. We've got a lot of good ideas to try now! I think we will avoid soy products, if possible. He's 76, so his testosterone levels are probably already pretty low due to his age. My husband and I are going to do some experimenting this week. I think we'll aim for a tart smoothie with lots of good fats (coconut oil or avocado) and protein (pasturized egg or protein powder). I don't know what base we'll use for the smoothie yet, but maybe a lactose-free yogurt or rice milk. Thanks again, everyone!

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answers from Norfolk on

How about a fruit smoothie with coconut milk? Using tart fruits will help cut the sweetness of the coconut milk. If you're feeling very industrious, you can make sorbet or non-dairy ice cream with less sugar and make milkshakes to his favorite tastes. (MY grandfather adored pumpkin pie, so when he was ailing, that was the flavor shake I made for him.) Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

I am not sure that I have a suggestion for a ready made product, but wanted to suggest adding avocado to something that might be otherwise too sweet. It pairs well with a lot of fruit flavors, cuts the sweetness, and adds a lot of healthy fat and extra calories.

Coconut milk is a great suggestion and you can also use rice, almond, or soy milks to get everything blended up. I also added Brewer's Yeast to my smoothies when I was pregnant for a BIG boost of protein.

Does he like pumpkin pie? I used to blend canned pumpkin with plain greek yogurt, cinnamon, and a little honey. You might be able to change around the yogurt to something else and get something not too sweet but with a nice flavor memory.

Also, is it casein that he has the problem with...or lactose? There are a ton of lactose free dairy options on the market.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Does he care for chocolate? I make my son a "pudding," that consists of avocado, cocoa powder, dates, and coconut oil. You can add agave nectar, honey, or sugar to sweeten it a little. Just put all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. The avocado and dates have great fats in them!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Would he drink a fruit smoothie? Blend up some frozen fruit with some juice, banana, soy or coconut yogurt and/or almond milk, add a scoop of hemp or non-dairy protien powder or the like (from your local health food store or Whole Foods) to give it some extra heft and some satiety. I know a fruit smoothie is sweet but if you add more almond milk and hemp/protein powder and less fruit, then it may not be too overly sweet for his taste buds.

Hope that your FIL is back to his old self soon.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

He could add olive oil to his regular foods. Add olive oil to veggies instead of or in addition to butter. Olive oil on his meat, on baked potatoes on any savory food. Drown salads in olive oil dressings. Olive oil is good for you. So is coconut oil. Used to be they thought we shouldn't use coconut oil but nutritionists and doctors have changed their minds. I put coconut non-dairy creamer in my coffee sometimes for a change in flavor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I echo Laurie D's suggustion of making a smoothie with soy yogurt. Stoney Field has one ("cream top") that packs 170 calories and 6 grams of protein per container... Use two containers per smoothie and you've got at least 340 calories! You can use rice, soy or coconut milk ice-cream... or non-sweetened almond milk is an option to help make the smoothie liquidy and not overly sweet. Add a banana for an extra 100 calories.

This website offers recipes for soy yogurt smoothies:

However, I thought I would also mention...

1.) My daughter is allergic to cows milk protein. Her diet relies on goat milk/yogurt/butter/ cheese. If your FIL is having difficulty with cows milk protein, you can always switch him to goat or sheep diary products. But... if he is actually experiencing lactose intolerance issues (which is totally different from a cows milk protein allergy), then his diet should go towards lactose-free foods--which may still contain cows milk protein. You need to know what his reaction is being triggered by in order to know what foods to switch to.

2.) If his testosterone hormone levels are low, this could cause loss of muscle density... giving him a more skin and bone look (although low testosterone may also result in a pot belly/fat retenion issue). Eating a diet high in soy might not be the best idea if he is experiencing a hormonal imbalance, since soy can be interpreted like the estrogen hormone. So, he might want to get his hormone levels checked to see if that is causing a loss of weight (or a more skeleton-like appearance).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

muscle milk. lactose free, high in protein and calories.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Check out Ensure drinks. I don't know if they contain dairy. They are adult nutrition drinks.

Good luck. If you try these things and he doesn't start to feel better, maybe he should go back to the dr. to make sure there isn't something else wrong.



answers from Phoenix on

Have you looked into boost??? they sell it at most grocery stores. My aunt was turned onto this for the same reason. She need to gain weight.

They come in a variety of flavors.

check it out.



answers from Dallas on

My 90 year old dad has same issues. No appetite and losing weight. Dr wants him to get more calories. We have tried Ensure 3 different times and Dad gets nauseated on the third or fourth day every time. He was getting nauseated even with vanilla milk shakes made with Lactose-free milk. Last week, I started him on Hardcore Weight Gainer (got it on Amazon) with good results. The serving size is TEN (yes 10) scoops for 1313 calories. I started with only 3 scoops each 24 hours and his weight loss has stopped. I mix 1 or 2 scoops with 8 oz WATER (he does not like jucies) and it is NOT thick at all. Dad tolerates it nausea. He asked me today to increase the number of scoops so we can try to get some of the lost weight back. Early results are encouraging and exciting.



answers from Scranton on

Ensure plus is what my doctors recomended for me.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi FR,

My husband is allergic to dairy, so he drinks either soy milk or rice milk. They also make a soy based ice cream as well in different flavors like vanilla, neopilitan, chocolate and so on. You can get them at Frys and Walmart. I'm not sure about Safeway. Good luck!

I. K.



answers from Albuquerque on

Get as much coconut into him as you can! Start here:

Read Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Fallon and Enig. The title is deceiving. It can help people lose weight, but also gain it if they need to. Focus on the return to health diet. Stay away from Ensure and those types of drinks. Have you ever read the ingredients list on those? Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

Go to and look at the nutritional supplements they have available. They are made with Goats milk so the lactose intolerance isn't there for most people. I'm in my 50's and have been sluggish and losing weight so I've started on the Mt Capra Double Bonded and the Solar Synergy already I feel better and am full of energy! Good luck to you and your Father-in-Law.

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