Many cancer patients are confused with many kinds of fad diets and food suggestions. Knowing the proper ways to get sufficient nutritional intake to help you through this difficult time is of utmost importance.
Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery increase your body’s demand for energy and protein. In order to heal and also to maintain your internal defenses against infection, you will need sufficient nutrition. However, these treatments can bring some side effects which can affect your appetite and food intake.
Your body needs a healthy diet to function at its best. This is even more important if you have cancer. Eating well while you are being treated for cancer can help you:
- Feel better
- Keep up your strength and energy
- Keep up your weight and your body’s store of nutrients
- Tolerate treatment-related side effects
- Lower your risk of infection
- Heal and recover faster
WHAT TO EAT?
Eating well means eating a variety of foods, based on the Malaysian Food Pyramid. This will give you all the nutrients you need to protect your health while fighting cancer.
Here are 9 eating tips for a healthy and nutritious diet.
1. Variety is the spice of life. Enjoy a variety of foods from the five food groups based on Malaysian Food Pyramid.
2. Maintain a healthy body weight by balancing calorie intake with physical activity.
3. Choose healthy carbohydrates and fibre sources, especially whole grains. Based on the Malaysian Food Pyramid, one should take in about 4 – 8 servings of grains and their products everyday, preferably whole grains.
4. Enjoy a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, at least 5 servings every day.
5. Choose healthy fat. Enjoy food with healthy fats & limit unhealthy fats in food preparation.
6. Include sufficient amounts of protein (fish, meat, poultry, egg, legumes and nuts) in your diet.
7. Eat adequate amounts of milk and dairy products, 1 – 3 servings a day.
8. Limit sugar and salt in your diet.
9. Drink 6 – 8 cups of water daily to remain healthy and prevent dehydration.
TACKLING EATING PROBLEMS
Cancer treatments can cause side effects that lead to eating problems. It helps to talk to your dietitian if you are not sure what to eat during cancer treatment. Here are some tips on how to cope:
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This article is extracted from the “I Have Breast Cancer. What Next?” booklet produced by Assunta Hospital’s Nursing Department for breast cancer patients.