The EatSmart Blog

Providing Tools and Tips to Live Healthier, Happier Lives

Nutritional Tips for Cancer Patients

Guest post by Complementary Medicine Advocate, Jillian McKee.

Regardless if you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, are undergoing treatment, or are in remission, nutrition is of utmost importance. Eating may present a problem to many current or former cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma, due to changes in appetite or food preferences.  Nutrition can play an important part in your energy levels and how you feel overall as well as bolster your immune system and help you sleep better.

Here are some eating tips for cancer patients from the National Cancer Institute:

1.  Aim for a balanced diet.
Do your best to keep up a balanced diet with whole grains, dairy, fruit and vegetables, while limiting sugar, caffeine, salt and alcohol. Remember to allow yourself to have bad days and do your best on the days when you feel better.

2. Bump up the calories
If you have lost weight due to the cancer or cancer treatment, try to add calories to your diet in a healthful way. An occasional piece of pizza or a donut will be a tasty way to include some calories, but be sure to include extra calories from healthy sources such as protein bars, shakes or other healthy alternatives.

3. Get help
Ask someone to help you cook several healthy meals that can be frozen and then simply heated back up on the days when you do not feel like cooking. This can help keep you away from the drive-through and gives you easy access to a healthy meal with little effort.

4. Forget the schedule
One way to make sure you are eating well during or after cancer treatment is to eat when you are actually hungry, whether or not it is technically a mealtime or not. If you are truly hungry, you are more likely to pick healthy foods that will help bolster your energy and nutrition than trying to force down food when you have no appetite.

5. Supplements
Speak to your doctor or dietician about adding nutritional supplements to your dietary program. While most of your vitamins and minerals should come from healthy food, nutritional supplements can often help fill in the gaps for the days when you are not feeling well or eating quite as nutritionally as you could.

Remembering the importance of a healthy diet during cancer will help patients and their families work harder to provide a consistently healthy nutritional program during the course of cancer treatment and even during remission.

About the Author: Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment. Follow the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog.


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