Nutrition Before, During, And After Cancer Treatment
People who have cancer, undergo tremendous changes physically and mentally. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often essential parts of cancer treatment. As a result of cancer, its treatment, regular visits to the doctor, and physical and emotional distress, the patient’s body suffers the most. Diet during chemotherapy is vital. However, due to everything going around in the patient’s life, nutrition often takes a back seat, compromising the patient’s health further.
Nutrition for people with cancer is highly essential to keep the body going. A good diet for cancer patients before, during, and after treatment is necessary to help them feel better and healthy.
Why Is A Good Diet For Cancer Patients So Important?
Nutrition for people with cancer is necessary to:
- maintaining a good healthy weight
- store all the necessary nutrients for the body
- make patient feel energized and better
- speed up the recovery and healing process
- protect against infections
- cope with side effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue
- respond better to the treatment
- help the treatment work better for the patient
Diet For People With Cancer Before Treatment
Before you begin your cancer treatment, ensure that your nutrition routine is sorted. Eat clean, healthy, well-balanced meals and try to maintain a healthy weight. The following foods can be taken before treatment.
- Plain or fruit-flavored yogurt
- Fresh fruits
- Cottage cheese
- Egg and toast
- Milk and cereal
Stay focused and set achievable nutrition goals, as these will help you get stronger, better manage the side effects that might occur during the treatment, and prevent the chances of infections. Talk to your doctor and dietician to help you plan a diet regimen. And concult your therapist regarding any issues you have that could potentially hinder your health.
Prepare Beforehand By Following These Tips
- Load your kitchen and refrigerator with foods packed with nutrition. Include everything you would need to maintain a healthy weight and body.
- Stock your pantry with foods like vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, etc.
- Add items into your pantry that you can have while being sick that are easy to cook, pre-cooked, ready to eat, or frozen.
- Plan your day-to-day meals. Make meal charts and calendars.
- Cook and store your food beforehand.
- Seek help from your family and friends. Ask them to help you keep your nutrition in check by helping you prepare your meals or by bringing you meals.
- Ask your family or friends to shop for healthy food on your behalf. Please list things you will need for your diet during chemotherapy and hand it over to them.
- Seek advice on diet during chemotherapy from your doctor or dietician.
Diet For People With Cancer During Treatment
While the treatment is going on, it becomes tough to manage nutrition. However, it is at this point that food becomes most important.
Let’s know how to manage nutrition during cancer treatment
Nutrition for people with cancer and diet during chemotherapy can be managed by adding the top 7 foods into your diet.
- Eggs: They are a rich source of protein and essential during cancer treatment to provide energy to the body and help build muscle mass.
- Fish: It is a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are good for avoiding unhealthy loss of weight, have anti-inflammatory properties, and promote brain health.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale have a rich nutrient profile. They are beneficial in improving brain health and immune system health.
- Nuts: Nuts come in handy, especially during appointments for cancer treatment. They are rich in proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Avocado: It is extremely rich in nutrients and helps during cancer side effects like dry mouth, mouth sores, weight loss, or constipation.
- Broths: Vegetable, meat, and poultry broth can be taken while being treated for cancer. They are rich in electrolytes and can help restore the electrolytes lost during cancer treatment due to side effects like diarrhea and vomiting.
- Pumpkin seeds: These seeds are packed with proteins, fats, and vitamin E necessary to fight inflammation. Pumpkin seeds are also good for snacking during and after cancer treatment.
- Eat well and eat healthy. Eat fruits and vegetables, and have meals with lots of proteins and fibers. Make green leafy vegetables, citrus-rich fruits, lentils, nuts, and seeds a part of your everyday routine.
- Eat healthy portions of snacks when you feel like not eating or when you feel hungry after a meal. Yogurt, soups, crackers, and cheese are great healthy snack options.
- Stay hydrated. Drink fluids on days you feel like not eating. Drink lots of water, and consume liquids like soups and broths to stay healthy.
- Avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar, salt, and refined carbohydrates (like cakes and bread). Do not eat raw fish or meat.
- Stay active. Take a simple walk every day to be active and prevent loss of muscle mass and weight gain.
Side Effects During Treatment And How To Manage Them With Diet:
- Loss of appetite: Manage loss of appetite by consuming more fluids, eating smaller portions of about 5 to 6 meals, and having healthy snacks.
- Nausea and vomiting: Eat 6 to 8 small light meals and snacks (like yogurt, crackers, soups, dry cereals), include plenty of liquids and have them slowly, and avoid sweet, spicy, greasy, and fried foods. Eat lemon or peppermint flavored candies to help you feel better. Avoid foods with strong smells that might make you nauseous.
- Constipation: Consume plenty of fluids, stay hydrated, eat fiber rich foods, have hot liquids, and avoid heavy meals.
- Diarrhea: Hydrate yourself. Include lots of liquids, eat frequent and small meals, and drink fluids rich in electrolytes (sodium, potassium). Avoid heavy, greasy, spicy, and dairy foods.
- Dry mouth or mouth sores or throat sores: Consume small meals that are soft and tender, drink water throughout the day, have easy-to-swallow foods (like soups and juices), and have candies, popsicles, and frozen fruits to help your mouth feel moist. Have moist foods like gravies and salad dressings. Avoid spicy, hard, and greasy meals and crunchy foods.
Nutrition For People With Cancer After Treatment Ends:
Most of the treatment's side effects often subside with the treatment's end. However, certain side effects like loss of appetite, fatigue, dry mouth, trouble swallowing, etc, take some time to go. The following steps are to be taken to maintain nutrition for cancer patients after treatment ends.
Eat food loaded with nutrients. Add the following to your diet after treatment ends:
- Proteins: They help the body tissues to repair and also keep the immune system healthy. Plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and soy and animal proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs are good sources of proteins.
- Vegetables and fruits: Colourful fruits and vegetables are necessary for staying healthy after treatment.
- Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, and cereals are great when included in the diet after treatment as they are rich in proteins and can provide right nutrition.
- Fats: Nuts, seeds, almond butter, peanut butter contains healthy fats that provide energy to the body after treatment.
- Beverages: Tea, juices, milkshakes and water can help you stay hydrated, relax and feel fresh.
“You Are What You Eat.”
Eating clean and healthy is extremely important while being ill, and food has the ability to heal. Choosing wisely what to eat and what not to eat can significantly impact your health, especially in the case of cancer, as the body requires maximum strength to fight the disease.
Maintain a healthy weight with little physical activity (like walking) to help you stay fit, Follow your doctor or dietician’s instructions. Do not smoke or consume alcohol avoid foods that are processed, oily, sugary, spicy. Take nutritional supplements prescribed to you on time.
“The First Wealth Is Health.”