Eating well can help you feel better and stay stronger during and after cancer treatment. Patients who eat well and maintain a healthy body weight often tolerate treatment side effects better. And good nutrition also helps the body replace blood cells and tissues broken down by treatment.
A healthy lifestyle plays a key role in keeping the body strong, supporting the immune system (the cells and proteins that defend the body against infection) and reducing risk for some diseases, such as certain kinds of heart disease and some cancers. Most nutritionists agree that eating a variety of foods is the best method to ensure intake of all the nutrients the body requires.
A healthy diet for everyone, including cancer survivors, incudes:
Drink water, tea and coffee to maintain hydration. Consider decaffeinated beverages if you experience diarrhea or reflux as caffeine can make these symptoms worse. Avoid sugary drinks such as soda.
Discuss drinking alcohol with your doctor. If you do drink, do so in moderation. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Good nutrition should be part of a healthy lifestyle that also includes:
Foods cannot be used to treat cancer, but some things you eat or drink and some actions you avoid can make a difference in your health and how you feel.
Nutrition By Diagnosis
Nutrition is an important part of your overall cancer care plan. Cancer and treatment may change your nutritional needs and how your body processes food. Making good food choices during and after cancer treatment can help you feel better, maintain your strength, and speed your recovery.
Limit sweets and added sugars.
Foods high in added sugars like desserts and sweets provide little nutritional benefit and often take the place of other foods that are better for you.
Drinking enough fluids during cancer treatment is important for preventing dehydration. Aim to drink 64 ounces of fluid daily. Avoid drinking large amounts of caffeinated beverages. Too much caffeine can lead to dehydration.
Practice good food safety.
Wash your hands often while preparing food. Use different knives and cutting boards for raw meat and raw vegetables. Be sure to cook all foods to their proper temperature and refrigerate leftovers right away. Read more about Food Safety.
Talk to your healthcare team before taking any vitamins or supplements.
Some medications and cancer treatments may interact with vitamins and supplements. Choose food first as the main source for nutrients.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Alcohol may contribute to dehydration, can lower the abilities of your immune system, and provides no beneficial nutrients.
Most importantly, know that your cancer journey is unique to you and your treatment.
You may experience side effects that affect your ability to follow these suggestions. If you are struggling with any side effects, such as loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, or any other nutrition concerns, your needs may be different. A registered dietitian can suggest nutrition guidelines that will be appropriate for your cancer journey
Best Food Choices Throughout Cancer Treatment?
When you are faced with lymphoma, nutrition can be an important part of your journey. Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes which are a mass of tissue that helps protect the body against infection. Eating a well-balanced diet during and after cancer treatment can help you feel better, maintain your strength, and speed your recovery.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Aim to avoid losing or gaining much weight during treatment. Strict dieting is not recommended during cancer treatment. Losing weight can lower your energy level and decrease your body’s ability to fight infection.
Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day.
Eating frequent small meals will ensure your body is getting enough calories, protein, and nutrients to tolerate treatment. Smaller meals may also help to reduce treatment-related side effects such as nausea. Try eating 5-6 small meals or “mini” meals about every three hours.
Choose protein-rich foods.
Protein helps the body to repair cells and tissues. It also helps your immune system recover from illness. Include a source of lean protein at all meals and snacks. Good sources of lean protein include:
Whole grains provide a good source of carbohydrates and fiber which help keep your energy levels up. Good sources of whole grains include:
Fruits and vegetables offer the body antioxidants, which can help fight against cancer. Choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get the greatest benefit. Aim to eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Choose sources of healthy fat. Avoid fried, greasy, and fatty foods. Choose baked, broiled, or grilled foods instead. Healthy fats include: