Here is a brief summary of dietary considerations for cancer patients from LIVESTRONG.com:
What Is a Good Diet for Cancer Patients?
Cancer encompasses a variety of different conditions that arise from cells that divide abnormally quickly and invade other tissues. Cancer and treatments for cancer can take a toll on the body, so it is important that cancer patients get adequate nutrition. Changes to your diet can help you get all of the calories, vitamins and minerals you need.
Obstacles to Good Nutrition
Cancer patients often have a hard time with their diet because of the effects of both the cancer and cancer treatments. Many patients suffer from nausea, pain, a reduced appetite and diarrhea as a result of radiation or chemotherapy. Some develop aversions to certain tastes and smells. Cancer treatments also can cause lactose intolerance, which results in gas, diarrhea and bloating when patients consume dairy products. Cancers of the digestive tract are often treated with surgery, which can impair nutrient absorption and cause “dumping syndrome,” or rapid gastric emptying.
Cancer patients often need to eat a diet that is high in calories. A high protein diet also may be needed to prevent muscle wasting. Foods that are high in calories and protein include peanut butter, meats, cheeses and milkshakes. Patients who develop an aversion to fat can still follow a high protein diet by consuming cottage cheese, lean meats and yogurt. Fruits and vegetables also are needed for a balanced diet; fruit juices and dried fruit are recommended for their high caloric content, as are calorie-dense vegetables, such as peas and corn.
Tips to Increase Food Intake
If you have a diminished appetite due to cancer treatments, scheduling regular mealtimes can help you eat on a consistent basis, as waiting until you are hungry could cause you to eat too infrequently. Eating smaller meals and consuming a variety of foods also can make it easier to get enough calories and other nutrients. Some patients also benefit from nutritional supplement drinks, which can come premixed or in powder form.
Some cancer patients take antioxidant supplements to reduce some of the side effects of their treatment. Antioxidants are molecules that can nullify dangerously reactive molecules known as free radicals, or reactive oxygen species. One concern with antioxidant supplements, Colorado State University notes, is that many treatments for cancer, including radiation and some chemotherapy drugs, kill cancer cells using free radicals. As a result, antioxidant supplements could make these treatments less effective. The effects of antioxidants on the efficacy of cancer treatment is still being studied, so talk to your doctor before using antioxidants or any other type of supplement.
I have highlighted some key considerations, including ways to get protein without a lot of fat, and pros and cons of using anti-oxidant supplements during chemotherapy.
I am thinking about all of this a lot as I physically and mentally prepare for my stem cell transplant in June.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat