Why is Your Diet Important During Cancer Treatment?
Everyone understands that it is important to pay attention to your nutrition and food intake.
During cancer treatment, nutrition plays an important role even more, especially in helping patients cope with the side effects of their treatment and boosting their overall health.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition for cancer patients, there are a few basic principles that everyone should keep in mind.
We encourage you to keep in mind the importance of working with a professional while you are going through cancer treatment.
Is There Such a Thing as a Healing Menu?
Research shows that when you have a cancer diagnosis, you don’t need a uniform diet, but a complex, balanced menu, of tasty food that ensures healing and protects against relapses.
Everyone should take into account the biological factors (vitamin content, nutritional value, calories), psychosocial, and cultural characteristics of food. Only then nutrition will become one of the factors in cancer therapy.
With the right dietary adjustments, patients can also reduce the risk of infection, fatigue and other common side effects of cancer treatment.
The Basics of Nutritional Considerations During Cancer Treatment
- Eat often in small portions, 5-6 times a day: three main meals and 2-3 snacks in between. During main meals, food should be freshly prepared and warm.
- While going out, take your own food with you. If you are going to a hospital, polyclinic, or other places where you will not be able to eat for more than 4 hours, put food in a box or a thermos and take it with you.
- Eat more food rich in proteins (poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, soy/tofu products) at least 3 times a day. If you do not eat enough protein, after consulting your doctor or dietitian, take additional nutritional supplements enriched with protein.
- Add flavorful spices and herbs to make bland foods more palatable.
- Drink enough fluids. It is recommended to drink 1.5-2 litres of liquid. Choose high-calorie liquids. You can also replace some clear liquids with caloric ones – juices, soups, milk, milkshakes, and soy drinks, or you can use them as snacks.
- Avoid cooking with large amounts of oil or other fats in the pan. It is recommended that food be stewed, boiled, steamed, and baked in the oven.
- Check with your doctor if you need to take additional nutrition drinks, protein supplements, vitamins and mineral preparations.
Common Nutritional Challenges During Cancer Treatment
When it comes to nutrition during cancer treatment, there are a few common challenges that patients may face. These include nausea, loss of appetite, food aversions, difficulty swallowing, and taste changes.
Nausea is a common side effect of cancer treatment, and it can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet. Eating small, frequent meals can help to reduce nausea and maintain your energy levels.
Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is another common side effect of cancer treatment. To combat this, it can be helpful to focus on nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest and high in calories. Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day can also help to boost your energy levels.
Food Aversions, Difficulty Swallowing, and Taste Changes
Food aversions, difficulty swallowing, and taste changes are also common during cancer treatment. Eating soft, bland foods can help to combat these issues and make it easier to eat. Additionally, adding flavorful spices and herbs can help to make bland foods more palatable.
It is important to remember that everyone’s nutritional needs are different, and it is best to talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine your best plan.