Cancer treatment can sap your appetite. How to meet your nutrition needs… post #2

Get Vitamins In Food, Not Capsules

Instead, say experts, focus on what you need most now: calories. When you’re being treated for cancer, taking in enough calories to maintain your strength and keep your body going trumps pretty much everything else. “For many people undergoing chemotherapy, we’re happy to tell them to eat whatever they like to eat. If it appeals to you and you can keep it down, then eat it,” says Deng. “If you ask someone to eat too strict a diet, often they end up not eating enough.”

If you have trouble eating enough at mealtimes, many experts recommend adding medical nutrition supplements — like Ensure, Boost, and Instant Breakfast — to the menu. These drinks can often help make up for some of the nutrition missed when you can’t work up an appetite for dinner or the energy to prepare it.

“Go ahead and try to eat a meal, and when you’ve done your best, you can supplement it with one of these drinks to give you the calories, protein, and other nutrients you can’t get in at mealtimes,” advises Sally Scroggs, MS, RD, LD, senior health education coordinator at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Just don’t rely on the drinks so much that you don’t eat regular meals. “They’re called supplements for a reason,” she adds.

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