Nutrition During Cancer Treatment: Three Things To Know

Health & Medical Blog

Eating a balanced diet and getting the right nutrition during cancer treatment is essential for fighting infections, staying healthy and replacing tissue. In some cases, it can be difficult to stick to a diet due to side effects from your treatment or from the cancer itself. Your oncologist can work with you to create the nutrition plan that works best for you. Here are just a few things you should know about healthy eating during cancer treatment.

Your Appetite May Change

You may experience a loss of appetite during your treatment. While this is normal, it is still important to eat enough to maintain your body weight as much as possible. Instead of eating three meals a day, you may find it easier to eat frequent small meals or snack throughout the day instead. Opt for high-protein snacks that can help strengthen your immune system and promote muscle and tissue growth. Some small snacks that pack a big punch might include:

  • Deviled or boiled eggs
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Hummus
  • Yogurt
  • Energy bars

Food May Taste Different

Depending on the type of cancer you have or cancer treatments you are undergoing, you may find that some of your favorite foods no longer taste the same. You can combat this and still enjoy the foods you love by making a few changes. Be sure to rinse your mouth before eating to help cleanse your palate, and consider serving foods that are chilled or are at room temperature. Hot foods can intensify tastes and smells, which can make them overwhelming. You can freeze fruits and eat them as frozen treats to get the nutritional benefits without experiencing the intense flavor that can sometimes come with fruit. Trying out new sauces, spices or marinades may also work, as you may find new flavors that please your palate more than some of your old favorites.

You May Experience Nausea

Nausea is one side effect of cancer and its treatment that many people know about. It does not, however, have to prevent you from eating completely. Work with your oncologist to come up with a plan to stay nourished, and be sure to contact your doctor if the nausea becomes severe. You can cope with this side effect several ways. Eat small meals or snacks, and be sure to sip on clear liquids throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated. Avoid rooms that are very warm, especially when you are ready to eat. If odors and strong tastes impact your nausea, stick to bland foods. Crackers, potatoes, yogurt, eggs, sponge cake and sherbet are all mild foods you may be able to eat without issues. Consider talking to your oncologist about prescription medications you can take to ease the symptoms. You may also want to consult with a nutritionist to ensure you are getting the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients at this point in your treatment.

While your diet may not seem like the most important part of cancer treatment, it is essential to helping your treatment progress. If you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you may be able to fight off infections, strengthen your immune system and stimulate new tissue growth. Be sure to consult with your doctor, like Southwest Oncology Centers, before changing your diet before, during or after cancer treatment.


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