A healthy diet remains a central part of wholesome living. As a person living with cancer, eating right becomes even more pressing, especially if you were not doing so before. Living with cancer may come with its peculiar challenges that may require you to adjust your diet. So, eating right for some cancer patients may be a tad different from eating right to other people.
Why is this so?
The side effects of the cancer treatment, as well as the toll the disease puts on your body, may require you to eat more of a specific food class. However, this does not mean that there is a special diet you must take.
You may have come across the term ‘cancer diet’ which some people claim can cure cancer. This is false and misleading. The management of cancer is more complicated than a simple meal.
If you want to eat right and stay healthy, then you need the points below.
- Eat vegetables
Vegetables are good for you and play a vital role in keeping you healthy. There is some evidence that eating vegetables reduces your risk of developing cancer. Furthermore, some greens are beneficial for patients with certain kinds of cancer. For example, tomatoes are helpful for patients with prostate cancer, and cabbage for patients with breast malignancy.
Vegetables contain antioxidants that play a role in fighting cancer as well. In addition to this, they contain fibre, a useful agent in dealing with treatment-related constipation.
Fruits provide you with the various vitamins and minerals that you need, especially during this time. Try to eat fruits that are hassle-free and high in water content. Melons, berries, and pineapple are some examples.
Cancer treatment may cause turbulence in your digestive tract. Thankfully, probiotics like yoghurt can aid the proper digestion of food. When buying yoghurt, you should target the unsweetened type.
Lean meat, fish, and chicken are good sources of protein for you. Nuts, legumes, and beans are also another great source of protein. Fish and soy foods are great for prostate cancer patients. You should also eat cooked eggs, not raw ones.
These different types of protein are adequate for you as they provide you with variety and help you with rebuilding your body and regaining your lost body mass.
Rice, whole grain bread, pasta, and oats are beneficial to you as they will help you keep up your energy levels. They also contain fibre that makes digestions a smoother process for you.
- Smaller meals
Nausea and vomiting may make it difficult to eat and you may struggle with your appetite as well. To manage this and ensure that you still get the right amount of nutrients you need, you should break your meals into smaller ones throughout the day. This way, you don’t need to force yourself to finish large meals, and you can ensure that you keep your energy levels up.
You can also snack on cereal, cheese, and homemade smoothies in between meals.
- Drink Water
Apart from trying to maintain your body mass by eating proteins, and your energy levels by eating adequately, it is pertinent that you stay hydrated. Drinking enough water will help you get rid of toxins and waste products from your treatment. Also, it can reduce fatigue and nausea. Your body needs enough water to help you heal well, so drink it.
- Raw food
Raw eggs, fish, and other forms of raw food should be avoided. Cancer lowers your immune system and this puts you at risk of developing infections. Of course, you want to avoid infections during this time because they are worse and have far more severe qualities.
- Grilled / Overcooked food
Preparing meals at really high temperatures can release chemicals that are thought to play a role in promoting tumour growth. So you should avoid eating grilled food or overcooking your meals.
- Drink alcohol
Alcohol is not encouraged for you. Also, it is one of the risk factors for most cancers, and you do not want to complicate your circumstances. It is best to stay away from it during, and if at all you must drink alcohol, then it should be in small quantities.
- Processed food
Processed food like sausages contain harmful chemicals, and they should not be part of your diet. These chemicals are carcinogenic, and you do not want them in your body. It is better to eat meals prepared from fresh foodstuffs.
- Spoilt food
If it smells or tastes funny, then you should not eat it. Fruit or food items with mold or signs of going bad should be thrown away and not eaten. Your system needs to focus on getting better, and adding food poisoning to the mix will not facilitate this. Ensure that you store your food well, and get rid of rotten food.
- Unpasteurized milk and milk products
Stay away from unpasteurized milk and related products, as they may contain microbes that can cause illness.
- Cold food
Always reheat your meals and don’t eat food that has gone cold or has been left out for too long as it may have become contaminated.
- In unsanitary conditions
Keep your environment clean. The neatness of your surroundings is vital, so you should avoid eating in unhygienic conditions or preparing your food in them.
- Unwashed / Dented fruits
Fruits are healthy, but you should not eat them without washing adequately. However, you should avoid washing with soap. Wash your fruit under running water and dry them with a paper towel or clean cloth.
As you keep to these, you should also keep your doctor informed of your dietary choices and avoid taking too many multivitamins as they can interfere with your treatment. Eating may not be easy, as you may have periods when you do not want to eat at all. However, there will be days that your appetite will be fine. Try to eat well on those days, and also before you commence treatment so that you will be able to withstand the rigors of treatment and recover well.