Posts Tagged ‘cancer diet’

Your Cancer Diet When Undergoing Treatment

Nutrition to Fight CancerA healthy diet can quickly take a back seat during cancer treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments can be hard on the body, which makes it difficult to get the nutrients you need. Although cancer treatment effects can differ for each patient, common side effects that can make it difficult to eat healthy may include:

  • Nausea
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Taste Change
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea

However, a healthy diet is more important than ever when undergoing treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, proper nutrition can help patients maintain weight, lower risk of infection, improve energy and better tolerate some side effects.

Easy Ways to Improve Your Diet

When trying to improve your own diet, it’s important to keep in mind that cancer is an individual experience. What tastes good or appeals to one person may make someone else feel worse. The best place to start is with the healthy choices you already like and take small steps that will help combat side effects and boost your diet, including:

  1. Eating small meals or snacks
  2. Making healthy choices
  3. Making simple adjustments to your diet
  4. Talking to a dietitian

1. Eat small meals or snacks

Nausea, heartburn or diarrhea can make eating or drinking seem impossible. Try eating small meals or snacks to make the task seem less daunting and help you feel more comfortable.

2. Make healthy choices

When you are able to eat, be sure to make healthy choices:

  • Avoid high-fat or spicy foods, which can trigger nausea and heartburn.
  • Find vegetables that taste good and are easy on your stomach. Lightly steamed or blanched veggies may help ease heartburn compared to raw veggies.
  • Pair complex carbohydrates with a lean protein. Try whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or eggs and whole grain toast.
  • Reach for healthy snacks, such as nuts, applesauce, yogurt, cheese or brown rice.
  • Try to eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables. Pick options that taste good to you and are easy on your stomach.

3. Make simple adjustments

Simple choices throughout the day can help make eating a little easier, including:

  • Staying elevated after eating.
  • Eating when you’re hungry. If you can’t face breakfast in the morning, but get hungry at dinnertime, plan light snacks for the morning. Then, try to eat more later in the day.
  • Staying hydrated. Drinking water can help manage some side effects, like constipation, but can sometimes make others worse. Take small sips throughout the day to stay hydrated without upsetting your stomach.
  • Eating food at room temperature. Food that’s too hot or cold can be tough on nausea and heartburn. Let food cool off a bit before eating.

4. Reach out for help

It can be difficult for some patients to find that balance between managing their side effects and eating healthy. A dietitian can help sort through your questions and side effects to build a strong and healthy diet.

The dietitians at Winship Cancer Institute help support patients before, during and after treatment by working closely with them to create individualized nutrition plans.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center for Georgia — the highest designation given by the NCI to cancer centers in the nation. Winship offers expertise in cancer research, prevention, detection and treatment with the most advanced therapies. Winship is where you get treatments years before others can. Our expert team coordinates every detail of your visit to meet your individualized treatment plan. Visit emoryhealthcare.org/cancer or call 1-888-WINSHIP for an appointment.

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

Eat Healthy with CancerThe Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes March as National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” encourages everyone, including individuals undergoing cancer treatment, to adopt plans focused on making informed eating choices and getting daily exercise to improve overall health.

A healthy eating plan limits foods with added fats, sugars, and salt and emphasizes nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds. Nutritional needs should be met primarily through consuming food, not supplements, because whole foods provide a variety of other components that are considered beneficial to health. A healthy lifestyle is also more than just choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables. Age, gender, family history, and current health condition play a role in determining which foods we should eat more of and foods to avoid.

Understanding the nutritional content of foods is essential to making informed choices when building an eating plan. For example, dairy is not the only food group that contains calcium. Collard greens are also a good choice. Reading the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredient lists can be confusing, but it is a good way to determine nutritional content of food products.

Daily physical activity should go along with eating a healthy diet. Recommendations include at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. Strength training exercises, such as lifting light weights and doing push ups, are also beneficial.

Here are some additional tips to help you “bite into a healthy lifestyle”:

  • Try one new food every week, instead of a complete diet overhaul.
  • Cook a new recipe or adapt an old one each week.
  • Fill half your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal.
  • Try whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice, oats, barley.
  • Consume healthy lean protein sources.
  • Limit foods with added fats, sugars and salt.
  • Limit sweetened beverages.
  • Reduce foods that increase health risks.
  • Stay within your calorie needs when increasing healthier foods.
  • Eat a healthy balance between proteins, fruits, vegetables, fats and grains.

A registered dietitian can work with your preferences and routine to provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet a lifestyle based eating plan.

Attend a cooking demonstration

Attend a cooking demonstration hosted by registered dietitian, Tiffany Barrett, on March 18th from 12:30pm until 1:30pm in the John H. Kauffman Auditorium at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University (1365-C Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA, 30322).

About Tiffany Barrett

Tifffany BarrettTiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LD, is a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and sought after expert in her field. She is a key contributor to support programs at Winship and provides personalized nutritional advice to Winship Cancer Institute patients who are undergoing cancer treatment. She also consults with patients who have completed treatment and wish to continue to build a strong and healthy diet. She earned her Bachelor of Science at Florida State University and a Master of Science at University of North Florida. Tiffany is a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and completed a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management.

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Enjoy Holiday Food without Regret

Eating Thanksgiving with CancerEating healthy during the holidays can be a challenge for most of us, but for many cancer patients it’s a struggle just to eat. If you’re currently going through cancer treatment, eating might not be the first thing on your mind. However, staying nourished during treatment is extremely important. Your body needs more nutrients than normal to repair the effects of treatment.

We are all well aware that holiday foods tend to be fatty and sugary with many strong flavors. If you are having symptoms such as nausea, low appetite, taste changes or pain with swallowing, many of the traditional holiday foods will be unsettling. Avoid heavy cream sauces or gravies if you have a sensitive stomach. Also, stay out of the room where food is being cooked because cooking smells can make you nauseous. Turkey breast, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and basic vegetable dishes should be well tolerated. Whole grains like brown rice, barley and quinoa make excellent side dishes. Eat lots of fruits or veggies without buttery sauces or other fats. Let friends and family know how you feel and what dishes you can tolerate. Eat small portions and see how you handle the food, then go back for larger portions. Don’t overdo it.

If you are in cancer treatment, you may have a weakened immune system and you will need to be extra careful about foodborne illness and food safety. The primary cause of foodborne illness is eating perishable foods that have been held longer than two hours at room temperature. Keep hot foods at 140F or higher and cold foods at 40F or lower, out of the “danger zone.” Discard any turkey, stuffing, gravy or other items left out longer than two hours. Do not wait to refrigerate leftover foods; place immediately in a shallow container and pop them in the fridge. Keep turkey and dressing no longer than three days in the refrigerator, or freeze them. If you have any doubt about whether raw vegetables have been washed, skip them or your bring your own.

During this season of parties and social gatherings, many struggle to balance holiday indulgences with a healthy lifestyle. Weeks of eating foods high in sugar and fat, and limited amounts of fruits and vegetables, can start the New Year off with unwanted extra pounds. For rich seasonal treats, focus on small portions: a bite size piece of chocolate, a small handful of party nuts, slivers of pumpkin pie. Studies show that the first few bites of a food taste the best.

Limit high calorie, sugary beverages and get creative with plain water by making your own infused water. My favorite combination is mint with cucumber slices, refrigerated for at least 4 hours. But you can mix any fruit and herb variety. Include some of these healthy foods into your holiday diet: green and orange fruits and vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, berries, wild legumes, almonds and brazil nuts, and ginger.

The holidays are a special time, but for those in cancer treatment, there’s also anxiety. With careful planning and preparation, you can create an enjoyable holiday season.

About Tiffany Barrett

Tifffany BarrettTiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, Clinical Dietitian Specialist, provides personalized nutritional advice to Winship at Emory patients who are undergoing cancer treatment. Ms. Barrett also consults with patients who have completed treatment and wish to continue to build a strong and healthy diet. She earned her Bachelor of Science at Florida State University and a Master of Science at University of North Florida. Tiffany is a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and completed a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management.

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