Healthy Eating Habits for the Cancer Patient

There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer which is caused by asbestos exposure. Even still, there are treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation contribute to an appetite change as they can cause a breakdown in healthy cells in the body. Some side effects of these treatments include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and appetite loss. The anxiety felt because of a diagnosis can also contribute to these reactions. Because so many bodily changes can occur once there is a diagnosis and treatment begins, an alternative diet is recommended for people who are undergoing treatments.

A typical healthy diet is one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and dairy products. For people undergoing cancer treatment, however, a different diet is recommended. Cancer treatment is physically draining for most people, therefore a higher calorie intake is needed so people can maintain their strength to continue treatment. At certain times during treatment, people who experience changes in appetite may need to supplement their diet with extra milk, cheese, and eggs. These types of food, along with beans, yogurt, and nuts are easily digestible and can be beneficial for those experiencing nausea and other stomach issues related to treatment. Extra protein is also recommended. For some, trouble chewing and swallowing can be side effects of cancer treatment. In cases such as this, sauces and gravies are recommended to help meet calorie requirements.

What to Eat When Appetite is Poor

Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation naturally cause the body to need more protein; however, appetite loss and nausea can make it harder to eat these sorts of foods. Experts recommend preparing the body before undergoing treatment by eating protein in advance. For those already in treatment and experiencing appetite loss, powders like whey and soy can provide an alternative form of protein. For those experiencing trouble chewing and swallowing, whey and soy powders can be added to soft, easily chewed food such as mashed potatoes or fruit smoothies.

Contrary to a normal, healthy diet, a diet for those in cancer treatment might need to be higher in fat. Weight loss can occur because of treatment, so eating calorie dense foods, such as pizza and ice cream, can be beneficial. Losing too much weight while undergoing treatment can be dangerous and cause a doctor to stop treatment altogether, so it essential to make sure that a healthy weight is maintained.

Solid foods are important to a healthy diet during treatment, but drinking enough fluids is also a necessity. Many side effects of treatment, such as fatigue and nausea, can be due to dehydration. Eight to ten glasses of water are recommended to keep the body hydrated. Chemotherapy can be particularly difficult for the kidneys to handle, so large quantities of water can help to protect the organs. Juices and sports drinks are also recommended, however water is preferred.

Not all people will have the same reaction to therapies- some people may even gain weight, so it is important to speak with a doctor about proper nutrition while undergoing cancer treatments.