Nutrition During Cancer Treatment

When you are undergoing cancer treatment, it is important that you consume enough calories, nutrients and liquids to retain your strength, even when you do not feel like eating.

“Some cancers may change the way your body processes food and nutrients,” says Mark A. Meadors, DO, medical oncologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “Talk to your doctor about what you should be eating during treatment. Proper nutrition can affect the outcome of your treatment.”

Meadors_MarkThere are many important components to your nutrition when you have cancer, including:

Carbohydrates and fats: Carbohydrates such as breads, pastas, fruits, vegetables and fats such as meats, butter, nuts and dairy products will help you consume more calories. “If you find that you have a smaller appetite during treatment, try to eat foods that are high in fat,” says Meadors. “You do not need to be as concerned about high-calorie meals as you normally should be.”

Protein: People with cancer need to consume more protein than others because they
need it to fight infection, heal tissue and maintain a healthy immune system. Protein gives you energy, which is important when fighting cancer.

Vitamins and minerals: Talk to your doctor and dietitian about foods that give you the vitamins and minerals you need. However, if you are unable to consume enough through your diet, your doctor may recommend a multivitamin.

Water: You need water to stay hydrated — particularly when you are battling nausea and vomiting.

If you constantly struggle with a poor appetite, try these tips:

  1. Eat small meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals.
  2. Carry food wherever you go so it is handy whenever you do become hungry.
  3. Limit liquids during meals. Liquids fill you up, but do not have enough calories to sustain you.
  4. Experiment with cold foods, which might be easier on your stomach than hot foods.

For more information, call 573-331-3996.