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10 Tips to Getting Healthy Nutrition During Chemotherapy

From the GYN Cancer Articles List

10 Tips to Getting Healthy Nutrition During ChemotherapyI am concerned about getting the proper nutrition while undergoing chemotherapy. What are some tips for eating well when I don’t even feel well?

While you are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, you want to stay as comfortable and healthy as possible. This keeps your body strong and best equipped to fight infection and restore healthy blood values. Good nutrition during treatment can make a big difference in helping you achieve this goal.

Unfortunately, side effects from chemotherapy can affect the entire digestive system - from mouth to bottom - making it difficult to eat, or making you crave the wrong foods. Below are 15 nutrition and digestive system tips to help you feel better and stay healthy during chemotherapy.

1. Experiment with Flavors

Chemotherapy can change the way some foods taste and smell. You may find certain foods taste metallic or have a chemical flavor. Experiment at mealtime by cooking with marinades or different flavors to make your foods taste better. Try a slice of lemon or lime in your water.

2. Pamper Your Digestive System

Different chemotherapy medications have different side effects. Depending on your type of chemotherapy, you may experience diarrhea or constipation. With both of these issues it’s important to drink lots of water to stay hydrated and keep stools soft. Walk as you feel able as well, as this helps stimulate bowel movements. If you have severe diarrhea, or if it lasts more than 24 hours, make sure your doctor is aware.

3. Watch Your Weight

Some patients gain weight during cancer treatment. While it’s important to eat what you find enjoyable during chemotherapy, try to balance your diet with fruits and vegetables. Not only does this help keep possible weight gain at bay, your body needs the nutrition that comes with these foods. If you gain or lose 5 or more pounds, let your doctor know.

4. Stimulate Your Appetite

You may find your appetite suffers during chemotherapy. Nutrition is important to keep you as healthy as possible during your treatment. Rather than 3 big meals, eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day. Some foods that are often well tolerated include toast with peanut or almond butter, hot cereals, smoothies, or hummus. Dairy products such as yogurt and milkshakes are good, too. If you are having difficulties eating or finding any foods that appeal to you, ask to see a dietitian.

5. Monitor Your Diet and Your Symptoms

Many women find keeping a food and symptom diary very beneficial during chemotherapy. You may experience memory issues (chemo fog) during treatment, and things you intend to remember are easily forgotten. Writing down what you eat and drink and then recording the symptoms you experience after each chemotherapy cycle can be very helpful to take with you to your doctor. This provides information for your health care team so they can effectively manage symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.

6. Take Care of Your Mouth

Some chemotherapy medications can cause your mouth to become sensitive or even develop sores. Avoid spicy foods, carbonated beverages, crunchy snacks, and citrus fruits as these can increase mouth discomfort. Foods that are soft and at room temperature are better tolerated. Keep your teeth clean with a soft toothbrush and a gentle mouthwash. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water if you develop sores, and let your doctor know about this at your next visit. You may be prescribed a mouthwash to help heal/prevent mouth sores.

7. Keep Nausea at Bay

If the type of chemotherapy you are having is associated with nausea/vomiting, your doctor will likely prescribe several anti-nausea medications for you to take before and after treatment. Follow the instructions carefully. It’s easier to stay ahead of nausea than play catch up when it’s already upon you. Fresh air, a cool cloth, ginger ale, and peppermint tea can help settle your stomach as well. If you cannot control your symptoms, call your doctor. Your health care team is there to help you tolerate chemotherapy as comfortably as possible.

8. Skip the Alcohol

Your liver is working very hard during chemotherapy to help process the toxins in your blood. Ingesting alcohol places additional stress on your liver and can make it harder to process the chemotherapy. Alcohol can also increase nausea or interact with certain medications that are given along with chemotherapy.

9. Be Careful With Supplements

Ask your doctor before starting dietary supplements during chemotherapy. Vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can cause potential drug interactions and can even interfere with the effectiveness of your treatment.

10. Ask Your Doctor About Green/White Tea

Green and white teas are anti-oxidant rich, and this can interfere with the desired effect of your chemotherapy. For this reason, some physicians will limit the amount of green and white tea during treatment.[/list]Everyone’s experience during chemotherapy is different, so experiment with different foods to find out what works best for you. Managing symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, taste changes and constipation/diarrhea will help you stay stronger and tolerate your treatment easier.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

07-15-2017 - 10:58 AM


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