Most cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as a mesothelioma treatment struggle with the aftereffects of nausea. Loss of appetite, the resulting weight loss, and drastically reduced energy levels are some of the realities mesothelioma patients face. One of the most important methods to combat these challenges is a mesothelioma treatment plan based on holistic dietary choices. Along with choosing the right foods, a plan on how to best consume these foods, avoid nausea and quell constipation are critical to maintaining patient hydration and energy levels. The world renowned, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), provides a road map for patients to help cope with nausea.
Mesothelioma Treatment: Best Foods to Combat Nausea
According to UCSF, the following foods can help mesothelioma patients dealing with chemotherapy related nausea:
- Clear liquids such as cranberry or apple juice, low-salt or no-sodium broth, and caffeine free carbonated drinks
- Decaffeinated teas
- Broth based soups
Fruits and Vegetables
- Peaches, soft and mild tasting low acidic fruits
- Applesauce and low acidic canned fruits
Soft and Sweet
- Custards, pudding, and Jell-O
- Fruit bars, popsicles, and sherbet
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner
- Oatmeal, cold cereal, cream of wheat, yogurt
- Cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs
- Cold sandwiches
- Noodles, plain pasta, rice, mashed potatoes
- Low-fat natural potato chips, pretzels, Saltine crackers, toast
Mesothelioma Treatment Tips for Nausea
Understanding what you can eat is the first step in limiting or alleviating nausea. The next step is to understand how to eat, when to eat, and why you need to eat for energy.
What is the Best Way to Consume Foods to Avoid Nausea?
Mesothelioma patients should always take their time when consuming a meal – eating slowly is the first step to help combat nausea and constipation.
The next most logical and important tip is to change the portion sizes of your meals. Rather than consuming medium to large meals on a set schedule, researchers suggest that patients eat “small portions of food frequently.” The idea is to maintain a small amount of food in the stomach which may help patients feel better, avoid bloat, maintain energy, and hopefully avoid nausea.
Once patients have controlled their pace of consumption and meal portions, the next goal is to choose foods that help avoid nausea. Although greasy or spicy foods may be your favorite menu of the past, avoid them at all costs. The best foods to maintain a settled stomach should be bland and low-fat based. Salted meals can help with stomach problems but do not eat spicy dishes with pungent aromas. If the aroma of some hot foods causes nausea, then try consuming cold foods and entree style salads.
One way to avoid nausea associated with food aromas is to have someone else cook for you if that’s possible. Also take your meals outside and away from the kitchen where the food was prepared to avoid lingering smells.
Sometimes the best way to feel better is to rely upon comfort foods that have brought you pleasure in the past and provided – comfort. Unfortunately this doesn’t work every time. When patients are battling chemo based nausea, foods that used to bring you pleasure could be a problem. The last thing you want is to consume a favorite meal only to develop a dislike for that favorite food due to nausea.
Mesothelioma Treatment Tips for After Your Meal
Activity after a meal should be kept to a minimum. During healthier times you may have been able to consume larger meals and not skip a beat by proceeding to your next activity. Instead, patients should try to relax, rest, and stay quiet right after a meal. The best position for digestion is an upright seated position in a comfortable chair. Stay away from lying down, stay vertical if possible. Once you have found a comfortable place, give yourself an hour to remain inactive.
Patients can use this time to chronicle their nausea by taking notes about any particular foods or events that trigger nausea and changing those foods or events in the future. If the nausea becomes too much to deal with, ask your doctor or nurse about medications that can help fight this problem.
Dietary Mesothelioma Treatment to Fight Loss of Appetite
We’ve talked about foods and best methods to consume those foods in an effort to avoid or minimize nausea. But what if you just can’t eat? What if you experience a loss of appetite? Here are a few reasons why a patient could experience loss of appetite:
- Sensitive mouth, dry mouth
If you are experiencing one or a number of these issues, eating can become an ordeal. Yet it’s critically important that a patient maintain strength, energy, and hydration. The following are tips from UCSF on how to regain your appetite and energy:
- High Caloric Foods: Patients struggling to consume enough daily calories should ensure that what meals or snacks they do eat are higher caloric foods
- Snacks: If possible patients should attempt to consume snacks between their small meals. Foods such as shakes, smoothies, protein drinks, sandwiches, avocados or nuts could provide a boost
- Visual Appeal: The way a snack or dish looks can help influence a patient to give it a try. Appetizing colors, garnishes, and fresh aromas can help
- Atmosphere: Like many other things in life, finding the right atmosphere can help a person begin to eat. Whenever possible eat with family or friends, eat in a comfortable setting, and (if possible) set your table
- Plan Ahead: Patients, who feel up to the task, can cook or have friends or family prepare a few of their favorite meals for freezing. Having easy access to foods you have enjoyed can make a big difference in jumpstarting an appetite
- Prepare for Your Day: If a patient has a full day of tests and appointments, they can be prepared by bagging small snacks to consume throughout their busy day
- Smells: If you are not fighting nausea, familiar smells of your favorite foods may provide the impetus that sparks an appetite
Organizations That Could Help Your Mesothelioma Treatment
Not everyone is blessed with family or friends who can help provide meals or cook for them. Patients who don’t like to cook or don’t know how are often left with an even greater challenge when attempting to combat nausea, maintain their energy, strength, and weight. If cooking is difficult due to the symptoms of chemotherapy, consider contacting organizations such as Meals on Wheels or Project Open Hand for assistance. Local churches and other grassroots organizations around the country could help alleviate your situation. Don’t hesitate, ask for help!