Yoga and Nutrition
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Tuesday
Mar102015

5 tips for eating and staying well during cancer treatment

While the following list certainly isn't exhaustive, these are some important considerations to keep in mind during cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If you have questions or concerns about what to eat, it's always best to speak directly with a nutritionist for individualized advice. If you're not sure who to go to, ask your doctor or nurse for a referral to an RDN. 

 

1. Eat foods, not supplement pills.

It’s usually better to get nutrients from real whole foods than dietary supplements. You’ll get vitamin C from kiwis, broccoli, a baked potato – and absorb it better, too – no need for a tablet. Getting too much of certain nutrients from supplement pills can be just as dangerous as getting too little. Furthermore, certain vitamin, mineral, and herbal dietary supplements can interfere with cancer treatments. Always talk to your doctor or dietitian if you’re thinking about taking any dietary supplement, even if it seems safe and natural.  

2. Be safe.

During certain treatments including chemotherapy, you may more susceptible to food-borne illnesses. Avoid sushi, rare meat, soft eggs, and raw shellfish. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food. These precautions decrease your risk of exposure to bacteria that could make you sick and cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and delays in treatment.

3. Hydrate.

Adequate fluid intake is a must, particularly during chemotherapy. For most people, 2 liters per day of water is appropriate. It can be cold, hot, in-between, with sliced lemon or cucumber, sparkling or flat. Just make sure it’s going down.

4. Manage side effects healthfully.

Rather than succumb to overloads of comfort food for anxiety or fatigue, try going for a walk. Talk to your RD about foods that might aggravate or improve side effects. For instance, try ginger tea to reduce nausea. Don’t drink concentrated fruit juice, but do eat a banana and some plain rice if you have diarrhea. And avoid acidic or spicy foods if you have mouth sores.

5. Plan in advance.

Have easy-to-prepare foods on hand. Write things down. Recruit help from family and friends: let them know how they can help you plan ahead and what would benefit you most.