Good nutrition is always important while you are receiving cancer treatment. Adequate daily intake of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals is needed to promote healing and aid in minimizing side effects.
The consequences of malnutrition among patients with cancer can lead to weight loss, muscle weakness, apathy, immune deficiency, frequent infections and higher mortality.
What is a calorie? A calorie is a unit of energy. A nutritional requirement / consumption is often expressed in calories/day e.g 1g of fat contains 9Kcal.
When we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies stores the excess as body fat.
Here are some recommendations to promote good nutrition:
- Drink plenty of fluids: 6-8 glasses each day, if possible, (1.5-2 quarts).
- If your appetite is limited, You might prefer to eat 5 or 6 smaller meals rather than the 2 or 3 larger meals usually eaten each day.
- If cooking smells are unpleasant, try cool or chilled foods which have fewer aromas. Remember to eat slowly and chew your foods well.
- A pleasant atmosphere or meals enjoyed with friends or family often helps stimulate the appetite
Recommendations for nutrition may be individualized based on your current health status and history including those with diabetes. Your dietitian can provide additional recommendations or assistance in helping you meet your nutrition and/or diet therapy goals.
Healthy Eating Strategies
Everyone should make an effort to make healthy food choices to promote good health.
Watching the amount of fat you eat is important: Diets that are high in fat are often high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Ounce for ounce, fats contain more calories than carbohydrates or proteins, but it’s important to keep in mind that just because something is low in fat doesn’t mean it’s low in calories.
A good rule of thumb when you’re reading food labels: For every 100 calories, if the product has 3 grams of fat or less, it’s a low-fat product. This means 30% or less of the calories come from fat.
Foods like margarine, mayonnaise, and some salad dressings that get most of their calories from fat must have half or less than half the fat of the regular version of the food to be called “light.” These foods don’t have to meet the 30% cutoff for number of calories from fat to be considered low-fat.
- avoiding oversized portions
- choosing low-fat dairy products e.g Low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) yogurt, cottage cheese, or milkchoosing foods low in sodium
- eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- drinking water instead of sugary drinks
Calorie goals involves your weight aim (either weight loss or weight gain). If weight gain, calorie surplus is ideal, if weight loss – calorie deficit e.g eating less than the body needs and exercising.
An average person needs to eat about 2000 – 2500Kcal / day to maintain a healthy body weight.
You should aim to make daily food and beverage choices within your calorie goals to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.