Nutrition

Nutrition and Cancer

It is very important to maintain proper nutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment. Such treatments may involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological immunotherapy, and/or surgery. These procedures and medications can cause many individuals to lose their appetite and energy, putting them at an increased risk for malnutrition.

Your food choices when you have cancer and are undergoing treatment may be very different from what you are used to eating. The main goal is to try to keep your weight constant. In order to minimize weight changes, heal properly, and maintain the energy to cope with all the new challenges treatment may bring, you may be told to eat a wide variety of high-calorie and high-protein foods.

Sometimes, the recommendations given to you detailing what you should eat during your treatment will seem like the opposite of what you have always heard a healthy diet should include. However, following a high-calorie, high-protein diet may be encouraged, especially if you are feeling weak or are underweight. It can be a challenge to get enough nutrients because you may not feel well or may not feel like eating. Proper attention to nutrition can assist in an easier recovery.

Before Cancer Treatment Begins

Eating well before cancer treatment begins may help to increase your energy and improve your sleeping patterns. To prepare yourself and your home for your nutritional needs during cancer therapy, consider the following suggestions:

  • • Stock the refrigerator with plenty of your favorite foods so that you will not have to shop as often. Make sure these are foods you can eat when you are not feeling well.
  • Cook large portions of your favorite dishes in advance and freeze them in meal-sized portions.
  • To save your energy, buy foods that are easy to prepare, such as peanut butter, pudding, frozen dinners, soup, canned fish or chicken, cheese, and eggs.
  • Ask family and friends to help you cook and shop.
  • Talk to a registered dietitian about meal planning, grocery shopping, and reducing side effects of treatment, such as nausea and diarrhea.

Before treatment begins, cancer itself can cause problems that may result in eating problems or weight loss. It is not uncommon to have lactose intolerance (intolerance to milk sugar), nausea, vomiting, poor digestion, or a feeling of early fullness, sleepiness, and forgetfulness even before treatment for cancer.

Nutrition Classes

Free nutrition classes, led by a registered dietitian, teach participants about healthy eating habits, tips for maintaining adequate nutrition during cancer treatment, and ways to enhance overall well-being. A healthy snack will be provided during each class.

Nutrition Matters: During Cancer Treatment
Last Wednesday of the Month
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Ward and Kinney Conference Rooms 
Marie Yeager Cancer Center 
3900 Hollywood Road, St. Joseph

Nutrition Matters: After Cancer Treatment
Second Monday of the Month
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Ward and Kinney Conference Rooms 
Marie Yeager Cancer Center 
3900 Hollywood Road, St. Joseph

For more information or to register, call (269) 556-7114

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