A healthy diet during and after cancer treatment can help you feel better. Eating the right foods can also reduce the risk for other diseases and improve your overall health. Eating well during and after cancer treatment may help you:
- Keep your strength and energy up
- Better tolerate treatment-related side effects
- Lower your risk of infection
- Heal and recover faster
Eating well means choosing a variety of foods that provide your body with the nutrients it needs to fight cancer and tolerate treatment. Generally, a healthy, well-balanced diet includes:
Fruits, vegetables and whole grainsTry to eat at least five colorful servings of fruit and vegetables a day. These foods are the best source of carbohydrates, which your body needs for energy, as well as for supplying needed vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, low-fat dairy products and nutsThese foods are good sources of protein needed for growth, to repair body tissue, and to keep your immune system healthy.
A limited amount of fatFat is essential for the body to function normally. Choose monounsaturated (olive, canola and peanut oils) and polyunsaturated (safflower, sunflower, corn and flaxseed oils) fats. Limit your intake of high fat foods, especially animal fat. And reduce the amount of fat used when cooking by baking, steaming or broiling your foods.
Minimal amounts of sugar, alcohol and saltAvoid sugary drinks and limit alcoholic beverages to 2 for men and 1 for women per day (if consumed at all). Think twice and choose salt-cured, smoked and pickled foods less often.
Adequate fluidsFluids, especially water are vital to your health. Aim to drink about eight, 8-ounce glasses of liquid each day.
Not everyone develops issues related to eating as a result of cancer or cancer treatment. On the other hand, the type of cancer you have and where it is located can change the way you eat and the way your body uses the food you eat. In addition, different cancer treatments, how long the treatments last and the treatment doses can cause side effects that lead to eating difficulties. Some of the more common side effects are:
- Loss of appetite
- Sore mouth
- Sore throat and difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Changes in taste and smell
- Weight gain
A dietitian can discuss with you ways to manage any eating problems caused by cancer and cancer treatment. In addition, your doctor can prescribe medications that may help manage some of your eating issues.
A dietitian is the best person to talk with and advise you about your diet. He or she can help you create a nutritious, well-balanced eating plan to utilize during and after cancer treatment. Develop a list of questions prior to your visit and be sure to discuss how your favorite foods and recipes will fit into your meal plan. If you follow a special diet for other health issues, a dietitian can also counsel you on how to incorporate special modifications into your meal plan during cancer treatment.
Call 609-537-6363 if you are receiving cancer treatment and would like to schedule an appointment.