One of the most distressing parts of cancer treatment is that it affects one’s ability to eat and digest food. This can lead to weight loss and malnutrition, which in turn can leave you feeling weak and increase the risk of infection. Some eating-related side effects occur while you are receiving treatments and go away immediately after treatment ends, such as nausea or a sore mouth. But some may last longer, such as problems chewing or swallowing.
Whenever possible, try to stick closely with your usual diet during treatment. If you are experiencing eating problems and have lost weight, talk to your cancer care team about working with a dietitian or nutritionist to help you maintain your weight through treatment and beyond.
You may have heard that cancer survivors should follow a special diet to protect against cancer recurrence. The recommendation, however, is the same as what you hear every time you turn on the television or flip open a magazine: Stick with a healthy eating plan that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit your intake of processed foods and foods high in sugar and fat.
Good nutrition is important to maintain optimal health, particularly during and after cancer treatment. Not only does good nutrition help build muscle and strength, but it also helps tissue repair itself and promotes healing. This article will help you understand what you need to know about cancer treatment and eating well after treatment:
Tips for healthy eating after cancer treatment
- Eating well after treatment can help you feel good and stay strong. Consult with your health care team to learn what foods are right for you. Get tips on how to cook, grocery shop, and make healthy meals.
- Cancer treatment can have a lasting effect on your health and nutrition needs. Tips to help you eat well after cancer treatment, including recommending eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables each day, and eating high fibre foods.
- Red meats provide protein and iron, but they also contain saturated fat, which can be harmful to your health. Limit your intake.
- Processed meats (like sausage or bacon) are high in sodium and are not a healthy choice for cancer survivors. Try different types of foods for protein like poultry and fish, plus beans, tofu, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
- Opt for low-fat dairy products after your cancer treatment.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day — the less, the better. If you are overweight, consider losing weight by cutting calories and increasing your activity. Choose activities that you enjoy. Be sure to check with your cancer care team before starting an exercise program.
Ways You Can Get Ready to Eat Well
Eating well during and after cancer treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger. Try to eat a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups every day. If morning sickness, loss of appetite, or mouth sores limit what you can eat, work with your doctor or dietitian to find ways to get enough nutrients so you can stay strong.
- You can stock your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards with food that is easy to prepare, even if you do not feel like cooking.
- Try to cook meals and freeze them in single-size portions so you can heat them quickly.
- Grocery and other shopping, meal prep and cooking, the list of tasks you have always taken care of can be overwhelming during treatment. Eating Well After Treatment helps make it easier to get the nutrition you need to get through treatment and build up your strength for what comes next.
- Doctors, nurses, and dietitians may have ideas that are right for you.
Everyone is Different
If you do have eating problems, try not to worry about what the future holds for you. Many people who had eating problems were able to overcome them. What helped more than anything was taking one day at a time and finding what worked for them?
Eating well is more important than ever during treatment. When you have cancer, there are many helpful medicines and other ways to manage eating problems. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about the types of eating problems you might expect and ways to manage them.
Consult with Your Doctor, Nurse, or Dietitian
If you are not sure what to eat during or after treatment, make an appointment with your doctor or nurse. Ask your health care team to refer you to a dietitian. He or she will work with you to create a diet that meets your needs during and after cancer treatment. A nutritionist is the best person to talk with about your diet.
Bring a list of questions for your meeting with the dietitian. Ask about your favorite foods and recipes and if you can eat them during your cancer treatment. Find out how other patients manage their eating problems. Also, bring this book and ask the dietitian to mark sections that are right for you.
If recent cancer treatment has made eating difficult, a dietitian can teach you how to eat well and control your weight and can also help manage any side effects from treatment.
Ways to Get the Most from Foods and Drinks
- You may have trouble cooking, eating, and drinking during treatment. Not being able to eat what you want to eat can be stressful. You may have good days and bad days when it comes to food. Here are some ways to manage:
- High-protein foods like eggs, meat, poultry, and fish are the most important part of anaemia treatment. They can help you get stronger and build up tissue that may have been harmed by cancer treatments.
- Many kinds of cancer treatment can cause loss of appetite and may even cause sores or ulcers in your mouth and throat. However, there are some things you can do to make food more enjoyable and help you get the nutrition you need.
- When you do not feel like eating, food may not sound good. It is okay to eat any foods that sound good until you can eat more.
- Your body may need time to adjust after treatment. Some foods may not taste right or feel good in your mouth. A dry mouth can make it hard to eat and you may not feel like eating. Let us help you get the energy and nutrients you need, so you can keep feeling your best.
- Drinking a lot helps your body get the liquid it needs. This is even more important to do if you cannot eat all that you need. Most adults should drink at least 8 to 12 cups of liquid a day. We often forget to drink enough. Try keeping a water bottle nearby.
Taking Special Care with Food to Avoid Infections
When you are going through cancer treatment, your immune system is weakened, and you are more likely to get an infection. To avoid getting infections, here are some things you can do:
- You may be at risk of developing an infection during your cancer treatment. To protect yourself from foodborne illnesses, take special care with the food you eat — including cooked, fresh, and processed foods — during treatment.
- Reduce your infection risk by scrubbing raw fruits, vegetables, and herbs before you eat them. That is all you need to do to avoid infections caused by bacteria on produce.
- After cancer treatment, you may be at risk for infection. Soak foods like berries and cantaloupe in water before eating them to wash away any germs that might be on the surface. Then rinse them well.
- For fruits and vegetables that have rough surfaces and peels, such as melons, oranges, and avocados, scrub with a brush and water before cutting or peeling.
- Soak frozen fruits and vegetables in water to defrost them. Always rinse them off before you eat them raw (for a smoothie, for instance). If you are cooking frozen fruits or vegetables before eating them, there is no need to wash or rinse them before cooking.
- Hand washing is one of the best ways you can prevent foodborne illnesses. If you are following a raw food diet, this is especially important.
- After treatment, it is especially important to be safe when preparing meat, chicken, turkey, or fish. Food can cause infections when cooking and serving. Be sure to follow these steps for a healthy recovery.
- After treatment, it is important to make sure you do not get any infections. One way to do this is to be sure that the meat, fish, and poultry you eat are cooked to a safe temperature and to avoid raw juices, milk products, and nuts.
“HealthLink.news does not have any intention to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide its users and/ or the general public with information to better understand their health. All content (including text, graphics, images, information, etc.) provided herein is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis, or treatment. HealthLink.news makes no representation and assumes no responsibility/ liability for the accuracy of the information, advice, diagnosis, treatment provided herein or on its website. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY IN SEEKING TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ IT HERE OR ACCESSED THROUGH THE HealthLink.news WEBSITE.”