Dealing with a cancer diagnosis or caring for a family member with cancer can be exhausting at times. In our nearly 40 years of experience helping people make informed legal and medical choices, we at Mesothelioma Circle have learned that there are many ways to approach cancer care. Whether you’re a patient or a concerned caretaker, one thing that can help keep your body strong and your spirits high is good nutrition.
When faced with the physical and emotional challenges of a cancer diagnosis, it is easy to let a healthy, balanced diet slip away. Here are some of the things we’ve learned over the years about keeping up the nutritional end of care.
To effectively care for a friend or loved one, you’ll need to take care of yourself, too. Eat three square meals a day. You may want to eat slightly more than usual (especially extra fruits, vegetables, whole grains or protein) since you’re probably burning more energy now. If you spend long hours in the hospital, skip the snack machines in favor of a good half-hour in the cafeteria. You might be surprised how refreshing it is to eat a real meal.
Our advice for cancer patients is almost no different. Dealing with illness is taxing on your body and mind, so eating wholesome foods can help you stay optimistic and energetic.
It is important to keep in mind that having cancer can change your body’s needs.
To start, being diagnosed with the condition may leave you feeling sad or stunned. Your appetite may drop off for a while. During this time, lean on your friends a little. They may bring you hot meals or casseroles to show you that they love you. Try eating some. You’ll probably find that you’re hungrier than you thought.
The cancer can also hit your appetite hard even before your diagnosis. These illnesses sometimes cause what’s called “cachexia,” which is loss of appetite, thinness and exhaustion, all rolled up into one. Cachexia can be an early sign of cancer.
During treatment your appetite will probably stay low for a while. This is because chemotherapy, radiation treatment and recuperation from surgery can all make it hard to want to eat anything.
Tips for getting nutrition during treatment
- Eat many small meals instead of three big ones.
- Take little bites. This can help you digest food and keep it down.
- If you’re nauseated, wait a while before trying to eat.
- Drink plenty of water, but don’t overdo it. If you fill up on fluids, you’ll have little room for any food.