Living a journey through cancer is a serious set of particular challenges for patients. Nutrition is not an exception for them.
We estimate that most patients are aware that good nutrition is important for good health. Unfortunately, cancer treatment makes us face difficulties when our bodies become unable to absorb foods properly.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, surgery, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant usually cause side effects such as weakness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, that changes patients’ life. So in this aspect, it is worth understanding the main advantages of snacks and small meals during treatment.
For most cancer patients, it becomes difficult to eat the proper amount of food they were used to. Also due to the side effects, one cannot absorb the nutrients properly. When lacking key nutrients, one can start suffering from malnutrition.
In this case, snacking during chemo is important for maintaining weight and energy levels during treatment, boosting the immune system as well as managing symptoms of treatment. For best results and safety always contact your healthcare team and dietitian for recommendations that suit you best.
You already might be familiar with the principle that it is very important not to lose but maintain a stable weight during cancer treatment. Dietitians recommend ensuring that you get enough calories. Always inform your doctor promptly if you are losing weight.
Your diet should be organized so it covers the requirement to ensure the daily amount of calories. Remember when choosing snacks choose them rich in proteins. Having in mind that everyone is different, take into account that calorie and protein requirements are also different.
These Small Tips for Having Snacks Might Be Helpful When Seeking to Maintain as Many Calories as Possible:
- Try to eat often, but in small portions, and have snacks. Keep eating frequently, every 2-3 hours to prevent weight loss.
- As chemotherapy might change your taste sensation, do not hesitate to choose the food you like and enjoy it. Keep eating foods you enjoy.
- Select a quiet and cosy space where to eat, and allow yourself to change the place where you eat.
- Keep food next to you. While travelling, keep your snacks with you in a bag so you can have something close when you get hungry.
- If you get nauseous, eat a cracker or a piece of black bread before getting up.
Choosing the Right Snacks During Chemotherapy
Most researches show that the best snacks to eat during chemotherapy treatment are high-protein snacks like:
- nuts and seeds;
- yoghurt and cheese;
- whole grain crackers and bread;
- energy bars;
- fresh fruits;
For example, you can try making a rich-in-calorie shake with whole milk as a base, and some add-ins, e.g. Greek yoghurt, ice cream, nut butter, avocado, frozen fruit, or honey.
When talking about drinking, remember that it is useful to drink more than just water, but also milk, fruit or vegetable juice, and dense soups. These fluids will not only provide the body with fluids but also will supplement it with nutrients.
If you have constipation, drink more fruit juice, and eat more grated vegetables or cooked or canned fruits such as plums or apricots.
When feeling nausea, you may choose dry snacks such as ordinary biscuits, crackers, roller, or roasted bread; ginger or peppermint can also help. Try ginger biscuits, ginger beer or peppermint tea.
When vomiting, after it stops, try to eat breadcrumbs, roller, toast or bread, jelly, cooked rice, and soft cooked fruits such as apples, pears, or peaches.
You can also reach our other resource at beatcancer.eu on the basics of nutritional considerations during cancer treatment, many nice recipes for high-calorie snacks can be found here. Avoid low-fat or so-called dietary products, and take the most high-calorie products.
Here Are Some More Simple Examples You Can Try for Snacks When Having Chemotherapy:
- Omelettes or scrambled eggs with cheese or cottage cheese
- Oatmeal or cereal with fruit and milk
- Peanut or almond butter
- Pasteurized yoghurt with berries and granola
- Soup with saltine crackers
- Pasta with sauce or cheese
On the whole, the main principle for solving nutritional problems caused by cancer treatment and side effects is to take step by step seeking to select what suits you best.
Try boosting your calories whenever you eat, consider the frequency of eating, size of portions, consistency and temperature of food, and surrounding and position where you eat.
It’s worth remembering that every snack can be a useful step and can help you maintain your energy level and ability to recover. Remember to contact your dietitian regularly and check your health condition.