Nutritional Care Essentials for Cancer Patients
Nutritional Intervention and Healthy Eating
Cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery can be a long and tiring battle. You need the right amount of calories and nutrients to prepare your body for the fight. Unfortunately, the side effects of the chronic disease and its treatment can make it difficult to sustain a healthy diet. In fact, malnutrition is a serious concern for many cancer patients.
A professional cancer care team and nutritional counseling experts can help you create a customized diet plan that meets your body’s nutritional needs throughout the stages of cancer treatment and recovery. Read on to learn more about the importance of nutritional intervention and healthy eating for cancer patients.
What Is Nutritional Intervention
Nutritional intervention is integral to discovering, preventing, and treating malnutrition in cancer patients. The objectives of nutritional intervention will differ with a patient’s medical history, type and stage of cancer, and response to treatment. This is why individualized nutritional coaching should be a vital part of your cancer care. Proper nutrition can not only alleviate symptoms during treatment but also supports cancer survivorship.
Nutritional Guidelines for Cancer Treatment
Start eating healthy before you begin your treatment. It is hard to predict how the treatment will affect you or what side effects you might have. So, it is ideal to give your body the best fighting chance from the very beginning.
You can also plan ahead for the days after treatment when you might not feel like cooking. Fill your fridge and pantry with healthy food, preferably those that need little to no cooling. You can also make some of your favorite food and freeze them for later.
Additionally, ensure you have some friends and family who can bring you your meals for the first few days of therapy.
Your diet during cancer treatment should be focused on building up the strength you need to brave the effects of cancer and its treatment. This might involve eating high-fat, high-calorie food to keep up your weight. If you suffer from sores in your mouth that make it difficult to eat, you might also be advised to eat cold food like ice cream or milkshakes.
As both sudden weight loss and gain can affect the outcome of your treatment, you need to work with your dietician to ensure your nutritional intake is enough to keep your strength up without resulting in excessive weight gain. Based on your individual needs and health concerns, your cancer care team can help you find the right mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, water, vitamins, and minerals to include in your diet.
Protein is vital for growth, repairing body tissues, and keeping our immune systems healthy. Patients undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy will need more protein than usual to heal tissues and fight infection. Fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products, peas, lentils, dried beans, and soy food are all rich in protein.
Your body needs carbohydrates for physical activity and healthy organ function. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the best source of carbohydrates, and they’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Other sources include bread, potatoes, rice, cereals, corn, peas, and beans.
Fats give your body energy, insulate body tissues, protect organs, promote cell growth, and help your body absorb vitamins. Some kinds of fats are better for you than others. Avoid trans-fat as much as you can as they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. It can be found in snacks, baked goods, and some dairy products.
As vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects of cancer treatments, cancer patients are often at risk of dehydration. This can cause an imbalance in the fluids and minerals that keep your body functioning. It is best to keep around extra fluids like soup if your side effects act up.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are naturally found in most fruits and vegetables. If you’re eating a balanced diet with proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients, you’re also probably getting enough
Treatment side effects can make it harder to eat a balanced meal. In these cases, multivitamin supplements might be a good option. It is ideal to talk to your doctor about which dietary supplement you can and cannot take.
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants. They attach themselves to free radicals and prevent them from attacking normal cells. Antioxidants are found in many fruits and vegetables. You can also talk to your doctor about antioxidant supplements.
Managing Side Effects and Eating Healthy
The biggest hurdle to getting sufficient nutrients during cancer treatment is the side effects caused by cancer and its treatments. Standard cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. But, to ensure your body has sufficient energy, you need to keep eating even if you don’t want to. Here is a list of hacks you can use to overcome these side effects and continue eating healthy.
Dietary requirements before, during, and after cancer treatment vary from patient to patient. At New Jersey Cancer Care is dedicated to providing every patient with individualized and holistic cancer care. Our team will work with you to answer all your nutrition-related questions and help you get the necessary nutrients to fuel your body for the fight against cancer. Contact us today to learn more.