For patients undergoing cancer treatment, and for cancer survivors, food and diet are incredibly important.
At the University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, cancer survivors and their caregivers receive free nutrition education and individualized nutrition plans.
“A dietician plays an integral part in the whole comprehensive center,” registered dietician Lee Renda said. “Our physicians use us to help patients get over side effects from chemo treatment or radiation. We also work with our supportive care for the survivorship diets to make sure our patients are eating well.”
Lack of appetite is common during cancer treatment. Some treatments can even make food taste unpleasant. As a result, cancer patients must make a conscious effort to eat the right kinds and amounts of food to ensure their bodies have what they need.
Here are some suggestions for better nutrition during a cancer diagnosis.
• Choose nutrient rich foods like nuts, seeds, beans, whole grain cereals, colorful fruits and vegetables
• Eat small meals throughout the day
• Eat at a scheduled times instead of only when hungry
• Make meals taste good by using fresh herbs and spices
• Keep nutritious, easy to prepare foods handy
Here are some reasons nutrition and diet are important for cancer patients.
Cancer treatments can cause a range of side effects such as nausea, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, loss of smell or taste and more. Oncologynutrition.org provides information about how many of these symptoms can be mitigated by the right diet.
Your immune system needs protection
In recent years, there have been many reported instances of contaminated food making people sick. For someone weakened by cancer treatments food-borne illnesses could be life-threatening. To stay safe, avoid eating at buffets, salad bars or self-service restaurants. WebMD.com advises you to scrub and rinse fruits and vegetables and avoid eating those that you can’t wash easily, such as raspberries. All types of meat should be thoroughly cooked and eggs should not be runny.
You can heal faster
The National Cancer Institute notes while the role of nutrition in cancer treatment is not always fully understood, good nutrition practices can help cancer patients maintain weight and necessary nutritional stores. Proper nutrition can lessen the risk and severity of infections and other complications of cancer treatments.
You’ll feel better
Nutrition has both a physical and emotional impact on people. When people eat wholesome meals they generally have a more positive outlook about life and about themselves. The process of planning, preparing and eating a balanced and nutritional diet can boost optimism and confidence.
Good nutrition is just one aspect of supportive care for cancer survivors. To be most effective, it needs to be combined with rehabilitative efforts, emotional support groups, pain management, spiritual assistance and more. A medical facility that specializes in cancer treatment should be able to provide information about options for support services.