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Nutrition for Cancer Patients

10 quick tips for healthy eating during and after treatment

These simple suggestions from the Blount Memorial Cancer Center can help cancer patients maintain their strength, energy and weight during and after treatment.

During Treatment

Cold or odorless foods often are easier to eat. There are plenty of tasty options to choose from including cheese and crackers, peanut butter and crackers, popsicles, ice cream, sherbet, and chicken noodle or tomato soup. If eating full meals becomes difficult, try frequent small meals or snacks.

10 Quick Tips:

  1. Add two tablespoons of dry milk powder to each cup of regular milk used.
  2. Add cooked eggs or egg substitutes to sauces and gravies to increase the protein content.
  3. Add cottage cheese to salads, dips and dressings to increase protein content.
  4. Use plain, low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, on potatoes and in sauces for extra protein.
  5. Add ice cream, cream or half and half to milkshakes to thicken and increase calories.
  6. If your stomach is upset, make sherbet shakes with skim milk, sherbet and dry milk powder because they contain less fat, which is easier on the digestive system.
  7. Use sugar-free pudding and custards. Add in extra eggs or egg substitutes and two tablespoons of dry milk powder to the mixture to add extra calories and protein.
  8. If sweet foods start to taste too sweet, add a dash of salt.
  9. If your mouth and throat become so dry that swallowing is difficult, suck on sugar-free lemon drops, which help stimulate the flow of saliva and keep the mouth moist.
  10. Eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates, like those found in breads, vegetables, fruits and milk so that your body can use the protein consumed to build and repair any body cells that might have been damaged during treatment.

After Treatment

As you move beyond treatment, it's important to adjust your diet accordingly to maintain a healthy weight and help prevent serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes and a recurrence of cancer.

Quick Tips:

  1. Choose a variety of foods from all five food groups: Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group; Vegetable Group; Fruit Group; Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group; and Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts Group.
  2. Try to eat at least five servings daily from the fruit and vegetables groups, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables.
  3. Include more high-fiber foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals.
  4. Try a new fruit, vegetable, low-fat food or whole-grain product each time you shop for groceries.
  5. Decrease the amount of fat in your meals by choosing a lower-fat cooking method such as baking or broiling.
  6. For variety, substitute beans and peas for meat in some meals.
  7. Choose lower-fat milk and dairy products.
  8. Limit salt-cured, smoked and pickled foods.
  9. Avoid alcohol.
  10. If you are overweight, reduce the fat in your diet and eat sensibly sized portions. Your dietitian or doctor can help you create a nutritious, balanced and effective eating plan.
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