Before we address the categories of foods discussed in the introduction it’s important to remember the context of what is about to happen before treatment begins. The discussion of “healthy eating” is important because everyone can benefit from it, and with cancer treatment this task becomes more difficult than usual to do.
Moreover, I would like to focus first on what goes on in the body during treatment that overshadows appetite, so that we can better understand what we will be optimizing with this plan. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS):
When your cancer was first diagnosed, your doctor talked with you about a treatment plan. This may have involved surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biologic therapy (immunotherapy), or some combination of treatments. All of these treatments kill cancer cells. But in the process some healthy cells also become damaged. That is what causes the cancer treatment side effects. The following side effects can affect your ability to eat:
- loss of appetite (anorexia)
- weight loss or gain
- sore mouth or throat
- dry mouth
- dental and gum problems
- changes in taste or smell
- fatigue (tiredness)
You may or may not have any of these side effects. Many factors determine if you will have any side effects and how severe they will be. These factors include the type of cancer you have, the part of the body affected, the type and length of your treatment, and the dose of treatment.
The good news is that many of these reactions subside after treatment, but as part of stage one, we want to explore how to deal with these things before they occur. Although there are three common ways to obtain nutrients for these concerns in this stage (oral, feeding tube, and vein) we will focus on oral methods for this project as the first level of preparation.
General things to remember about eating right now include:
- Stock your pantry and freezer with your favorite foods so you won’t need to shop as often. Include foods you know you can eat even when you are sick.
- Talk to your friends or family members about ways they can help with shopping and cooking, or ask a friend or family member to take over those jobs for you.
- Cook in advance and freeze foods in meal-sized portions.
In the next section (Part 2) we will focus on general health facts and after that (Part 3), the need for “high-calorie and high-protein meals supplemented with snacks” before treatment.