Everyone who has battled cancer will know the hardships one has to face during treatment as well as on the road to recovery. Cancer is a robber, it robs you of the life you knew, your family, money, energy and everything you believed in, but one thing you cannot let it rob you of is- your fate in yourself.
10 Diet Tips for Cancer Patients During Chemo and Radiation Therapy
Don’t give in easily; keep fighting because there is always hope. Chemotherapy is one of the most common and effective treatments of cancer while combined with other drugs. Chemotherapy is very effective because it works by targeting and killing all fast-growing cells in the human body either targeted or non-targeted. For those who are battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, it is important to keep your diet in check just like every other human being. It’s just that cancer patients tend to have lower immunity levels, making them more vulnerable to malnutrition.
Diet Tips for Cancer Patients During Chemo and Radiation
- Keep yourself well hydrated
Vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects of chemotherapy, hence improper intake of fluids can lead to severe dehydration. Dehydration can be identified with symptoms such as the changed color of the urine or very little urine, sticky/dry mouth, tired – sunken eyes, etc. Make sure you drink lots and lots of water.
- Avoid alcohol or drinks that contain alcohol
Alcohol and cancer are not the best of friends. During treatment and recovery, there might come various occasions were one might need to have a drink. Talk to your doctor before you do so because your liver needs care during chemotherapy and the liver is the powerhouse that carries out the metabolization and toxin removal process in the body. In taking alcohol will only add additional pressure on your liver. Apart from the above, alcohol will worsen the side effects of chemo such as digestion, gastrointestinal discomfort, etc.
- Limit the intake of green tea
Green tea might be rich in antioxidants and it may have various other health benefits but chemo patients must be cautions while having green tea. Most physicians request their patients to limit their green tea intake. Various researches have shown that the phytochemical antioxidants present in the tea can interface with the chemo drugs making the treatment less effective.
- Have small meals
Cancer patients usually tend to have a poor appetite or no appetite at all. The main reason for this could be an altered sense of smell, taste, dehydration, etc. that can be caused as the side effect of the treatment. Poor appetite can cause depression, vomiting, nausea, etc. in patients. Hence instead of eating three large sized meals during the day, break your meal into smaller parts. The digestion power of chemo patients can be low hence having smaller meals can help in proper digestion. It will also keep the patient healthy and less nauseated throughout the day.
- Relieve mouth sore
Mouth sore during chemo is also known as oral mucositis. Every type of chemo do not cause a sour mouth bit for those who have, a sour mouth can cause serious pain and discomfort. Avoiding spicy food, hot food and reducing the intake of alcohol can make the healing process quicker. Another tip to get relief from the sour mouth is washing mouth with salt water after meals.
- Include more proteins in your diet
Any living body needs protein for growth and repair. Protein deficiency can also take a troll immune system of the body. Cancer patients are usually weak and protein deficiency can make the recovery process of the patients slow. Hence the intake of good protein-rich food such as lean red meat, fish, low-fat dairy, egg white, lentils, and nuts is necessary.
- Ease discomfort during diarrhea
Diarrhea is one of the most common side effects of chemo and radiation therapy. The reason for the cause of diarrhea is anxiety, stress, infection, antibiotics, laxatives, lactose intolerance, malnutrition, etc. Patients experiencing diarrhea must make sure they avoid greasy/ fried foods. Also avoiding caffeine, sweet drinks, etc. can help in easing the discomfort. Have foods such as oats, sweet potatoes, skinless fruits, etc. But if the patient experience more than 6 bowel movements continuously for more than two days, consult with the doctor immediately.
- Have food that helps in managing weight
Cancer treatments and the drugs used can sometimes lead to weight gain in patients. Hence cancer patients are recommended to have fuller low-fat meals such as oatmeal, non-fried snacks, lean meat, and vegetables. Though you may experience fatigue and hence difficult to move around make sure that you keep the patients as active as possible. A nice troll in the garden or by the sea can do a lot for the person’s mental as well as the physical health of the patient.
- Have a tasty and diverse meal
Treatments and drugs can have a serious toll on the patient’s taste buds and hence having the same boring meal every day can make the patient unenthusiastic to have food. Water and meat can start tasting metallic after a few days of regular consumption. Hence try making things interesting such as replacing plain water with flavored mineral water, substituting meat with egg whites, fish, etc.
- Consult a dietitian
Meeting a food expert and knowing the foods that will help the patient is very important. The side effects of chemo differ from person to person and hence taking expert guidance on what the patients need is very important for the recovery process. Eating the right kind of food before, during and after the treatment is very important for recovery. Before meeting the dietitian make sure you quote down all your concerns.
Once you win this survival battle, life after cancer is a completely different story where you need your willpower the most. One needs to learn to live with the uncertainty and fear in life. Above all, no matter how long and daunting life with cancer is remember to be “gentle with yourself”.