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Improving Nutrition Following a Cancer Diagnosis

A healthy diet is crucial for everyone, but especially so following a cancer diagnosis. Meeting nutritional needs can help strengthen cancer patients to better endure chemotherapy treatments, protect against infections, keep body tissue from breaking down and rebuild tissue. Good nutrition also helps patients cope with any cancer treatment side effects and may even be able to help them handle higher doses of certain drugs.

The recommendation for optimal nutrition for those with cancer who have lost excessive weight from treatments or have lost their appetites because of chemotherapy may be to consume more higher calorie, higher protein foods. To achieve this, the doctor may recommend increasing intake of foods like milk, cheese, and eggs. Other suggestions might include increasing the use of sauces and gravies, or changing cooking methods to include more butter and healthy cooking oils like Olive Oil. Sometimes, nutrition recommendations for cancer patients suggest eating less of certain high-fiber foods which can aggravate problems such as diarrhea or a sore mouth.

During treatment, cancer patients may suffer from lack of appetite. If that is the case, the recommendation is to try to eat any easily-digested foods to try to meet nutritional needs.

On treatment days, patients should:

  • Talk with the nurse to learn about ways to relax if feeling sick before treatment.

  • Determine the best time to eat and drink. Sometimes, patients feel better when they eat a little just before treatment. Others feel better when they have nothing to eat or drink before treatment.

  • After treatment, it's best to wait at least one hour before eating or drinking.

Some foods and drinks that may be easier on the stomach during cancer treatments include:

  • Clear broth

  • Grape juice

  • Baked chicken without skin

  • Crackers

  • Pasta

  • White rice

  • Baked potatoes

  • Bananas

  • Gelatin

  • Yogurt

  • Popsicles

A healthy diet is vital for a person's body to work its best. Our caregivers are trained to assist our cancer clients to plan, shop for, and prepare healthy meals, as well as monitor food intake to ensure that nutritional needs are being met. If you or a loved one could use some help at home managing the consequences of a cancer diagnosis, contact us to learn more about our in-home care services and how we can make you feel more comfortable as you go through your treatments.

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