The importance of nutrition during your cancer treatment

If you're going through cancer treatment, you may find that you've lost your appetite or that foods smell or taste differently. Finding the right foods to keep your strength and immune system strong may be a challenge, but it's one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

"Consider food as part of the overall cancer treatment and survivorship plan," says Terri Taylor, a registered dietitian at the HonorHealth Virginia G. Piper Cancer Care Network.

She offers some smart tips for diet and nutrition during cancer treatments.

Drink plenty of fluids

Fluid intake is critical throughout cancer treatment, especially since dehydration can deepen fatigue. If you find that water tastes funny to you throughout treatment, try: 

  • Adding a twist of lemon or lime
  • Infusing your water with melon, berries or cucumber
  • Adding a splash of 100% fruit juice

You can also substitute low-sugar sports drinks, unsweetened herbal teas and frozen fruit bars for water.

Focus on fruits and vegetables

Try to eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables since they have a lot of natural compounds that support your body and work with cancer treatment. Terri recommends berries, broccoli, carrots, mangoes, kale, peaches, spinach and squash.

Making smoothies using fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables is an easy way to ensure you're getting the nutrition from these items. You can also try adding vegetables to soups.

Find lean proteins and low-fat dairy products

"Foods like turkey, chicken, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy can help you maintain your body and muscle mass," says Terri.

Choose foods that are soft and moist

The side effects of some forms of radiation and chemotherapy can leave your mouth and throat feeling swollen, making it harder to swallow. Choose softer foods, and add sauces, dressings or broth to your food to help with eating.

Try ginger and turmeric

Ginger can help with reducing nausea and turmeric can help reduce inflammation. Terri also recommends that you eat smaller portions more frequently to help maintain your energy and combat nausea.

HonorHealth offers nutritional counseling for cancer patients. To make an appointment with a board-certified cancer dietitian, call 480-882-4703.

Care that's made for you

At HonorHealth Virginia G. Piper Cancer Care Network, we provide a level of cancer care, groundbreaking therapies and support that defies the expected. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, meet with an HonorHealth provider – within 48 hours if you’d like – by calling 1-855-485-4673. Please note that you’ll need a referral from your primary care physician, specialist or diagnostic imaging center. 

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