Nutrition plays an important role during chemotherapy, and can help patients feel stronger, fight against fatigue and infection. A well-balanced nutritious diet should include foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein and fats. However, feeding cancer patients, especially during chemotherapy, may be a little bit challenging as they do not have the same appetite and taste as they did before. Cancer treatments can also cause nausea and vomiting, which can lead to making food unappetizing and sometimes even making food taste bad. It may be necessary to add protein supplements to the diet, particularly if the patient is bed-ridden and not able to eat a sufficient amount of food.
Here are top suggestions and tips on eating well during cancer treatment. However, keep in mind to be creative and feel free to experiment on the food combinations that appeal to your taste and dietary restrictions. When in doubt, go check with your doctor as diet may affect your condition and medications, thus should be personalized.
1. Improve Your Appetite
In most cases, cancer patients experience side effects of appetite loss. There’s a lot of eating tips to beat the symptoms, as follows;
- Instead of three large meals, try to eat a small portion of meal but do it frequently. You can also keep some on-the-go snacks to chew whenever your hunger strikes.
- Move your body or do a light exercise just before the main meal to stimulate your hunger.
- Prepare various dishes to awaken your appetite, switch from one dish to another, or you can also try new food in a new restaurant.
- Try to not put your undivided attention into your meal. Go find some pleasant distractions such as eating with friends or watching your favorite TV show when eating alone.
- To complete your daily’s nutrients intake and calories, drink meal replacement to help the condition whenever appetite fades. If you value quality over quantity, try Prosure Milk Powder Nutrition For Cancer Patients from Abbot for a complete and balanced nutrition.
2. Consume Food Rich In Protein
Apart from burning more calories, cancer treatment will also cause protein deficiency. Add extra protein-dense food into your meal such as eggs, meat, fish, yogurt, nuts, beans to repair body tissue and help to keep your body strong.
3. Ensure Food Hygiene
Chemotherapy may weaken your body’s immunity system to protect against infection. Due to this reason, make sure your meal meets the standard food hygiene and is thoroughly cooked. Otherwise, consuming an under-cooked or raw meat will cause severe foodborne illness or food poisoning for people living with cancer.
4. Things To Avoid
- Avoid any kind of tobacco and alcohol, including alcohol-based mouthwash. During chemotherapy, your liver has to work really hard processing all the toxins in your bloodstream including chemo drugs. If you consume alcoholic drink at the same time, it will increase the workload of the liver.
- Carefully select dietary supplements or avoid them at all as they can interact with chemo drugs or even interfere with their effectiveness. The supplement can be in the form of vitamins, minerals, or herbal capsule.
- Limit green tea consumption (recommended portion: 1 or 2 cups a day) for people who are undergoing chemotherapy. Too much antioxidant from green tea may interfere with the effect of chemo medicines.
- Avoid spicy or sour food, high-sugar, and oily or crunchy foods that can irritate with chemotherapy-associated sore throat.