10 Diet Tips For Cancer Patients During Chemo And Radiation Therapy

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Diet tips for cancer patients during chemo
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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 level, making them more vulnerable to malnutrition.

Diet Tips for Cancer Patients During Chemo and Radiation

  1. Keep yourself well hydrated

Vomiting and diarrhoea 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 colour of the urine or very less urine, sticky/dry mouth, tired – sunken eyes etc. Make sure you drink lots and lots of water.

  1. 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 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.

  1. 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.

Green Tea Diet for Cancer Patients

  1.  Have small meals

Cancer patients usually tend to have poor appetite or no appetite at all. The main reason for this could be 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 size meals during the day, break your meal into to smaller parts. The digestion power of chemo patients can be low hence having smaller meals can help it proper digestion. It will also keep the patient healthy and less nauseated throughout the day.

  1. 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 sour mouth is washing mouth with salt water after meals.

  1. Include more proteins in your diet

Any living body basically 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.

  1. Ease discomfort during diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is one of the most common side effects of chemo and radiation therapy.  The reason for the cause of diarrhoea is anxiety, stress, infection, antibiotics, laxatives, lactose intolerance, malnutrition etc. Patients experiencing diarrhoea 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.

  1. Have food that helps in managing weight

Cancer treatments and the drugs used can sometime 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 persons mental as well as the physical health of the patient.

  1. Have a tasty and diverse meal

Treatments and drugs can have a serious troll on the patients taste buds and hence having the same boring meal everyday 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.

chemo therapy diet

  1.  Consult a dietitian

Meeting a food expert and knowing the foods that will help the patient  is very important. The side effects of chemo differs 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 were you need your willpower the most. One need 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”.

Angeline is a registered dietitian currently working in research. She have participated in many public health programs organised by WHO, and other health organisations around the world. She studied in North Ireland and in the USA to complete a BSc in Human Nutrition from Ulster University. She then went on to complete my PhD focusing on diet, exercise, weight management and more recently completed a postgraduate diploma in dietetics. She enjoy walks on the beautiful north coast of Ireland and is passionate about providing evidence-based nutrition advice for the general public. You can connect with her any time for a health advice.

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