Cancer treatment can sap your appetite. How to meet your nutrition needs… post #3

Next to getting enough calories in the first place, the most important nutritional rule for people with cancer is to focus on getting a well-balanced, healthy diet from natural sources, including fruits and vegetables, with a heavy emphasis on protein.

“Because the body is under stress from different treatments — whether you’re undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these — we really need to emphasize proteins for healing and repair and strengthening of the immune system,” says Scroggs. Red meat, fish, and poultry are excellent sources of protein (and iron as well, which is also important), but if you’ve lost your appetite for these, try other protein options like cheese, beans, peanut butter, eggs, nuts, milkshakes, and yogurt.

Some good food-based sources of important vitamins and nutrients for people with cancer:

  • Eggs and nuts are great sources of B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, and protein. Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D. Peanut butter and crackers are an easy, no-prep snack that pack nutrients and may be easier to keep down.
  • Milk, cheese, meat, fish, and poultry are also good sources of B-complex vitamins, as well as protein. If you’re having trouble eating hot dishes (the aroma of cooking food can sometimes trigger chemotherapy-related nausea), snack on mild cheeses, ice cream, yogurt, and other cold snacks. For larger meals, try chilled dishes like chicken, egg, and tuna salad.
  • Beans and other legumes offer plenty of B vitamins while helping meet your protein needs as well.
  • Since chemo-related mouth sores may make it painful to drink citrus juices or eat citrus fruits, which are the most common sources of vitamin C, consider alternative fruits and juices. “Peach and pear nectars, as well as applesauce, are good alternative ways to get vitamin C,” Scroggs says.
  • Green, leafy vegetables, of course, are great sources of vitamins like A, E, and K, as well as minerals like iron. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables carefully; your immune system can be compromised by cancer treatment and susceptible to contaminants in food.


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