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Diet and Nutrition

During your cancer treatment, the food pyramid probably won’t be on the top of your mind, but proper nutrition is as important as ever. Your body uses energy to repair tissue and maintain its strength. A healthy diet is an essential building block for allowing your body to repair itself and to resist infection.

You may lose your appetite during treatment, making maintaining good nutrition a challenge. Some treatments can also affect how well you tolerate foods or your body’s absorption of nutrients. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help increase your appetite, decrease nausea, and treat or prevent mouth sores.

During treatment, your nutrition needs may be quite different than you are used to and your treatment may require a special diet. Planning what you eat before, during, and after treatment is very important for maintaining strength.

Your doctor can give you more guidance, but these principles will help keep your body strong.

  • Calories should be from nutritious, wholesome foods.
  • Eating plenty of proteins and calories helps the body repair tissue and maintain strength.
  • “Good fats” like those found in vegetable oils and seafood help the body protect tissue and carry vitamins through the bloodstream.
  • Nutrient-rich carbohydrates – fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – supply energy.
  • Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated. It’s essential for proper cell function.
  • Small meals of nutrient-rich foods throughout the day may be easier than 3 large ones.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any supplement to make sure it doesn’t interact with your treatment.
  • If you abstain from certain foods for religious reasons, you may want to consult with your physician and religious advisor on temporary dietary changes.

You may benefit from nutritional counseling. You can find additional diet and nutrition resources below.