By now, we all know the multitude of benefits that proper health and nutrition can bring and how they work hand in hand. While maintaining good nutrition is important on a day-to-day basis for everybody, it’s especially vital for people that are battling cancer. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, eating the right kinds of foods during and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger. It is not uncommon to experience changes in appetite and other side effects while going through treatment, but cancer can also affect the body's ability to use nutrients. That being said, certain foods might not be as easily digestible as they once were.

Typically, eating well means a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  Depending on the individual and the stage of treatment, nutritional needs can vary. For example, a physician might prescribe a high-fiber diet for an individual who is experiencing constipation, while the medical team might suggest a low fiber, low fat diet for someone who is dealing with nausea. Nutritional needs change before, during, and after treatment, so it’s best to seek the advice of your Dietitian to determine what’s best for you. In general, eating well can help with several different things, including:

  • Quicker recovery
  • Faster healing
  • Feeling better overall
  • Decreased risk of possible infections
  • Maintain body weight
  • Store essential nutrients
  • Increased strength and energy
  • Decreased nausea

Beneficial Foods

  • Lean proteins such as chicken breasts, eggs, and low-fat dairy items can help your body repair compromised immune systems. On the other hand, if your body does not receive enough lean protein, it could impact your muscles by breaking them down. Ensuring you are receiving enough protein, especially during and after treatment like surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Healthy fats are an important part of the diet because they are a rich source of energy, insulate the body, and ensure vitamin and mineral absorption. Nuts, avocado, certain oils, salmon, whole eggs, and seeds are all great choices.
  • Water is crucial when you are going through cancer treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, you should be drinking about eight, 8-ounce glasses per day. Cancer patients can be particularly susceptible to dehydration because of possible vomiting and diarrhea.   Jello, soup, milk, and other fluids can count towards your goals.

Food Safety

Because cancer can compromise your immune system, it is imperative that the food you consume is safe. You can maintain proper food safety by thoroughly cooking all raw foods and properly washing all fruits and vegetables. Here are some other tips:

  • Ensure your hands are washed thoroughly before any type of food preparation.
  • Make sure the surface area you are preparing food on is clean and disinfected.
  • Separate your foods to prevent cross-contamination, by keeping raw meats and juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Use a food thermometer when cooking meat to ensure proper temperature, with no pink in the middle.
  • Always cook eggs until the yolk is solid and not runny.
  • Avoid eating at buffet-style restaurants.

At Joliet Oncology-Hematology Associates, Ltd. (JOHA), we strive to provide the most comprehensive treatment available. That’s why our team of experts, including a Registered Dietitian, will help guide you through your treatment. To learn more about the services that JOHA can provide, browse our website for information, contact us via email, or call our office to learn more at 815-320-3896.