Healthy Eating After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, your task will be to take good care of yourself as you go through treatments, and pay attention to the health of your body, mind and spirit. There are some unique challenges involved in nutrition for people with cancer which your doctor or his/her staff should address. They might also offer you consultations with a nutritionist to help improve your outcome.
Challenges faced by cancer patients
Some cancer patients are so upset by their diagnosis that they don’t want to eat. Others might have a hard time preparing healthy meals after surgery because they are in pain and have limited mobility. If they are not used to cooking for themselves, they might be confused about what constitutes a healthy diet.
Cancer can cause fatigue, so some patients might feel too tired to cook, or even eat. If they are having radiation after surgery, they might feel very tired and queasy.
The worst challenge for healthy eating is of course chemotherapy. It can trigger nausea and vomiting, leading to poor eating habits and poor nutritional intake. It can also significantly change the taste of food, so former favorites now become too gross to eat.
In addition, many people get a sore mouth and painful mouth sores from the chemo, making it hard for them to bite, chew and swallow. This should fade over time, but when combined with the metallic taste described by many patients as a side effect of chemo, it can mean misery and few proper meals.
One of the easiest ways to get good nutrition is to start eating more soups and stews. Cut the food up small and cook it to the point where it will be soft enough to chew. Since everything is cooked in one pot, none of the nutrition will go to waste. If you do want to eat something with more texture, like bread, soak it in the soup first. Try high-nutrition foods like natural Greek-style yogurt, peanut butter and oatmeal.
Eating even when you don’t want to
Make sure you eat small meals throughout the day, even if you don’t feel particularly hungry. This will keep your energy levels steady so you don’t get too fatigued.
Weight gain and weight loss issues
Some treatments will cause women to gain significant amounts of weight. Other cancer patients will lose weight. Working with a nutritionist will help you develop healthy meal plans that should help you maintain a normal healthy weight and give you the best chance of beating your cancer.