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Food and nutrition recommendation for cancer patients

  • Posted on- Apr 09, 2015
  • 10358 Views

Cancer treatment is tough and may affect a patient’s eating habits and nutritional requirements. Though it is important for patients to maintain a healthy body weight and eat a nutritious diet, the side effects of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, can take a toll on food consumption and body weight. So if you are facing difficulties post cancer treatment, working with a dietician/nutritionist can help.

Nutrition suggestions during cancer treatment
Below are some of the suggestions for patients undergoing cancer treatment:

  1. For many people maintaining a healthy weight means getting required calories daily. For obese people, this may mean shedding extra pounds. In most of the cases, cancer patients lose about a pound a week which is considered moderate. 
  2. Get the required body essentials such as carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals etc. 
  3. Be proactive by taking a daily walk. If you rest too much, chances are you may increase your body fat and not gain weight.

How to get essential nutrients and maintain healthy weight
A consultation with a nutritionist may help cancer patients acquire necessary nutrients like proteins, minerals and vitamins in their diet and manage healthy body weight. In addition to dietary counseling, your nutritionist may suggest the following:
  1. Multivitamins and calcium 
  2. Liquid meals and nutrient-rich beverages and snack 
  3. Feeding tubes 
  4. Getting nutrients in the body in a different manner such as intravenous (IV) injection. 
This strategy is successful for underweight people who don’t have enough nutrition before cancer surgery or those who have a weak digestive tract.

Side effects of cancer treatment and nutrition
Cancer treatment has some side effects including nausea, mouth sores and taste change which makes it difficult to eat or drink. Following tips will help you get the right nutrition in such condition:

  1. If drinking water feels troublesome, switch to other fluids like tea, soup, flavored milk or a sports drink. You can also add flavor to water by adding fresh fruit. 
  2. If food is distasteful, try topping it with spices such as rosemary, garlic, turmeric etc. 
  3. Eat in small portions but throughout the day instead of gulping large meals. 
  4. If meat is not tempting enough, try fish, eggs, cheese or beans to get the daily protein requirement.  
  5. If you have mouth sores, try smoothening vegetables and meat using a blender.
  6. Some medications are also helpful in treating the side effects. For that, you need your doctor’s consultation.

Ensuring food safety
Patients receiving cancer treatment need to be extra careful with their food because certain foods carry harmful bacteria and viruses which invade the body and weaken the immune system. This increases the risk of infection.

  1. Wash your hands before and after preparing food. 
  2. Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before consumption. 
  3. Do not eat raw fish, oysters or eggs that are not cooked solid. 
  4. Avoid drinking unpasteurized beverages like fruit juices or raw milk.

Nutrition after cancer treatment
Post cancer treatment, a healthy diet is recommended for cancer survivors as it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and weakening of the bones. Normally, doctors suggest eating a nutrient-driven diet, stopping smoking, doing exercises and maintaining a healthy weight for cancer survivors.

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