Good Nutrition Helps Patients Manage Cancer, Treatments

Dietitian shares tips about healthy eating for cancer patients
Bowls of fruits and grains on table

A cancer diagnosis means a whole new world you never planned to be in. Medical appointments, tests and procedures may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Good nutrition is most likely at the bottom of your “to do” list — but it is important and can help you through your cancer treatment. 

Before treatment

Prior to beginning treatment, your healthy diet should focus on lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, turkey, pork and lean red meat. Additional proteins include low fat dairy products, nuts and nut butters, peas, lentils and beans. Be sure to include fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains. Whole grains include whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, quinoa, brown rice and whole grain pasta.

Begin to plan ahead for meals. Make a few of your favorite meals that you can freeze into individual portions to thaw for a meal at a later date. As for grocery shopping, stock up on pantry items that will keep for an extended period. Consider having your groceries delivered or picked up if you do not want to go into the store. Or ask friends or family members for help with grocery shopping.

During treatment

Eating well during treatment will help in many ways. You will feel better if you are eating as healthy as possible, and you will be able to maintain your strength and energy. You will be able to better tolerate side effects from treatment if you are eating well before and during treatment. Good nutrition will promote healing and faster recovery. 

There will be days when you are not feeling well, and you do not eat very well or are too tired to cook or prepare a meal. That is to be expected. Drinking a commercially prepared supplement, like Ensure, Boost, Orgain or Kate Farms, will help with calorie and protein intake on those days you just do not feeling like eating.  

Eating smaller meals and snacks during the day can also help in maintaining good nutrition during treatment. Suggested snacks include yogurt, cereal with milk, cheese and crackers, cottage cheese with fruit or an apple with peanut butter. 

It is important to maintain your current weight. Weight loss during treatment will lower your body’s resistance and deplete your storage of nutrients. 

Virtual consultations

If you have questions or concerns about eating healthy before, during or after cancer treatment, call Waterford Place at (331) 301-5280 to schedule a free virtual consultation with a dietitian. Get ideas for basic meals, healthier food options and personal tips to help you manage treatment side effects.

Related Stories