A lot of focus has been on the prevention of cancer and promoting regular screening of the same; and rightfully so. However, there is a very important part that is not very much covered; and that is ‘How to cope with cancer treatment’.
Cancer itself plus its treatment has some side effects which interferes with normal dietary intake, thus posing some risk as far as good nutrition status is concerned.
A good nutrition status is vital if a patient is to tolerate treatment and ensure good recovery and good quality of life. Common side effects of treatment that may interfere with this include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and change in taste preference. These more often than not result in malnutrition, which further compounds the situation and decreases the effectiveness of treatment, the ability of the body to tolerate the treatment and the quality of life during and after treatment.
Therefore, a few nutrition tips are necessary if one is to cope well with chemotherapy.
- Get a good supply of carbohydrates and proteins to give you enough calories to maintain energy and strength.
- Eat small frequent meals rather than few large ones. This helps in cases of poor appetite and nausea.
- Include a number of protein rich snacks during your day like yoghurt, nuts and seeds, cereal etc, that are easy to prepare and eat.
- Eat your favorite foods, even if it means breakfast cereal for dinner to maintain good energy levels
- Drink nutrient dense fluids like milk shakes, porridge, yoghurt and protein shakes.
- Ensure you get a good measure of fruits and vegetables every day, especially bright yellow/orange fruits, green vegetables and citrus fruits. These are rich in antioxidants that are beneficial in fighting cancer.
- Avoid fried or fatty foods especially from animal sources
- If you have diarrhea, avoid foods that will strain or irritate your system like raw fruits and vegetables, acidic foods and very fatty foods.
- Exercise and keep physically active to release stress and maintain good muscle tone and strength. This also helps to maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid foods that cause gas because they make nausea worse e.g. some vegetables, sodas, beans etc
- Rest after eating, but do NOT lie down. Sit up to avoid back flow of food into the esophagus