She’s A Popular Snack Lady

August 24, 2017

Milkshakes, cheesecake, pudding cups – if they crave it and they can keep it down then Teri Borho will encourage her patients to indulge.

“I’m an unconventional dietitian. I don’t always refer to the food pyramid. If cheesecake for breakfast gets food in them then cheesecake it is,” said Borho, a dietitian who works with cancer patients. She’s been at IU Health Simon Cancer Center since it opened eight years ago and worked with cancer patients before that.

“I talk to them about how nutrition is important during chemotherapy and fighting cancer, but I’m also realistic. Some patients want small frequent meals, some patients can’t tolerate anything hot, and some patients don’t like the smell of food,” said Borho.

As she visits with patient Melissa Calahan, Borho listens to familiar details – weight loss, mouth sores, and cravings for something cool and creamy. Then she offers suggestions and a little advice: “Refrain from restaurant food – especially buffets – until you are feeling better. If you get menu fatigue and want some soup or a milk shake, ask the nurses. We’re here to help.”

They talk about the hospital specials – Korean Beef and London broil – and Calahan says she’s going to try to eat right and get exercise but Borho knows there will be days when food loses its appeal.

Most cancer patients have mini refrigerators in their rooms and Borho encourages them to snack.

“I try to help them enjoy food – to get a balance of calories and protein and adequate hydration. I tell them if they can get through the side effects there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Borho, who is married to Robert Borho, a manufacturing engineer. Together they have three children and serve as mentors for their oldest child’s robotics team – supporting students and providing healthy snacks for competitions.

In her spare time, Borho enjoys curling up and reading cookbooks.

“I originally wanted to be a chef,” said Borho. “I worked all through high school and college in food service but I really like science. I found dietetics to be a good mix of science and food.”

The food part is something that’s been passed down through generations in her family. Her mom did lots of canning, cooking and baking and Borho keeps the tradition going in her own family. She’s been known to bake 10 different types of cookies at Christmas and meal planning is a family affair.

“My kids love to cook and try new things. My husband loves to grill and smoke meats and we like a lot of variety,” she said. “I know what it’s like to have a picky eater. We got them involved early on. Now we cook together.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

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