Your Cancer Recovery Diet: Why It’s Important and How to Design It
A healthy diet is imperative for good health. It is all the more important when one is dealing with an illness like cancer. Both cancer and its treatment can take a toll on your body, and a healthy diet can help you in every step of your journey.
Proper nutrition is one of the ‘5 Pillars of Holistic Wellness’ that tends to your total well-being while in cancer recovery. A healthy diet helps with healing and improves response to treatment. It also helps regain muscle mass and maintain healthy body weight. Proper diet choices also help manage treatment side effects, increase energy, lower the risk for other health problems, and improve your quality of life.
Ask your doctors about your specific needs
Nutritional needs are different for each person. Cancer and cancer treatments also differ based on each individual body. The first step to proper nutrition while being treated and recovering from cancer is to talk with your health care team. They can guide you in your needs based on your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall health. It is important to always consult with your doctor before making any diet or lifestyle changes, so as not to impede your treatment or cause unwanted effects.
Focus on nutrients
Even before starting treatment, good nutrition is already a big part of keeping healthy. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends eating well to get a range of nutrients as an important part of reducing cancer risk. Additionally, there have been many studies proving the importance of diet for improving health outcomes in treating cancer. While no single diet or superfood can prevent or cure cancer, eating a variety of foods with a focus on specific nutritional needs guided by your health care team are vital to building up your strength and immunity
Opt for a personalized meal plan
During treatment and recovery from cancer, there will be days when you will not have the appetite or energy to eat. It would be helpful to plan your personal diet even before those days in order to ensure that you will be able to get the nutrients you need even through difficult times. WeightWatchers explains that personalized plans consider not only your nutritional needs but also take into account your personal preferences and sensitivities. A personalized plan would make it easier for you to prepare food early on. This will help you get nourishment and eat things you enjoy when your desire to eat may decrease.
Manage eating difficulties
One of the main issues with cancer treatment and recovery is the side effects that cause difficulties with nourishment. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and swallowing problems can make it difficult to eat. Loss of appetite, fatigue, and stress can alter eating habits. You can make changes to your diet, such as getting smaller meals, avoiding strong-smelling food, or varying food consistency. It is important to talk with your doctor about any symptoms you have. There are also a lot of nutrition resources like BC Cancer that have information on specific eating difficulties.
Consider food safety
Food safety is important for cancer patients. Cancer and cancer treatment can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to foodborne illnesses with severe complications. It is important to be vigilant in preparing, handling, and consuming foods. Take care not to choose raw, undercooked, or unpasteurized food items. Ensure proper preparation, and provide instructions for others who will also be handling your food.
Keep a food and symptom journal
Writing down your diet plans and your side effects will be helpful in keeping track of your cancer recovery diet. Remembering which foods made you feel better or you enjoy the most would help for next time you may need to find comfort with eating difficulties. Show this journal to your healthcare team so they can address any issues, manage your symptoms, adjust your treatment, or recommend diet adjustments as needed.