Posts Tagged ‘nutrition for cancer patients’

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.

33% of All U.S. Cancer Deaths Linked to Diet & Exercise

Nutrition to Fight CancerStudies consistently show that a good diet and regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, but did you know you can also reduce your risk of cancer by eating well and regularly exercising? Our genes play a large role in whether we develop cancer (some cancer types more than others), but studies show, and our experts at the Winship Cancer Institute confirm, we can take action to lower our risk of developing many cancer types. By avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and staying active, you can dramatically reduce your risk of dying from cancer.

I hosted an online chat on the topic of healthy eating during the holidays this week, and in it we covered lots of topics related to nutrition, health, exercise and wellness. Below are some of the most important takeaways from the chat for you to apply not just during the holidays, but year round!

Exercise: 

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We may tire of hearing it, but maintaining a healthy body weight is essential to your health.
  • As many as 1 out of 5 of all cancer-related deaths are linked to excessive body weight. Obesity is clearly linked with increase in several types of cancer, including breast, colon and rectum, edometrial, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancer.
  • Regular physical activity is critical to your health and wellness. Physical activity can help reduce the risk of breast, colon, endometrial and prostate cancers.
  • Adults should try to exercise for either 75 minutes per week at high intensity, or at least 150 minutes at moderate intensity each week. The latter equates to just two and a half hours of walking.
  • Children should exercise one hour each day at moderate intensity, but 3 days a week at high intensity, and limit sedentary activities such as sitting, lying down, playing video games, watching TV, etc.

Nutrition:

Maintain healthy eating habits by emphasizing consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. As I mentioned in the chat, all fruits and vegetables have protective and preventive cancer benefits. Here are some guidelines to consider when it comes to nutrition:

  • Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Choose whole grains as opposed to refined grain products (such as white rice).
  • Limit red meat and processed meat.
  • If you can’t get fresh produce, opt for frozen fruits and veggies over those in a can. Frozen produce is typically less processed and contains less sodium.
  • If you’re looking for protein options other than meat, try beans, nuts, soy, eggs, yogurt, cheese, milk, and whole grains such as barley and quinoa.

Lifestyle:

Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a known risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast.

  • Women should limit themselves to one drink a day.
  • Men should limit consumption to 2 drinks per day.

For more from our chat, you can view the chat transcript here. Although we can not totally prevent cancer, we have the ability to reduce our own risk by taking action. Winship wants to help you win the fight against cancer by arming you with as much knowledge as possible! If you have additional thoughts, questions, or tips to share, please do so using the comments below.

Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LDAbout Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LD

Tiffany Barrett provides personalized nutritional advice to Emory Winship 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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