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Chemotherapy and Nutrition

Content by: NCES, Inc.

Chemotherapy for cancer has side effects that can affect a person's eating habits. But, nutrition is important...

Chemotherapy and Nutrition





The side effects depend on many things, including what type of drugs being prescribed, dosages, and whether taken orally or intravenously. Multiple therapies at the same time, or sequentially, can increase side effects.

Side effects
It is common to have a loss of appetite, changes in taste and smell of foods, mouth tenderness or mouth sores, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, weight loss, and fatigue. These side effects sometimes are limited to during or immediately after treatments, but other times the side effect may last more long term, throughout the course of chemotherapy. Eating well can helps.

Vitamin supplements
Taking a multivitamin should only be done, if recommended by your Oncologist.

Preventing weight loss
Sometimes people do lose weight when receiving radiation or chemotherapy. Eating well will help prevent weight loss, and it might help during treatment and in post treatment recovery.

These suggestions may help:

* Try to eat nutrient-dense foods (if you can tolerate them), such as meat, dried beans, dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains.

* Choose high-calorie goodies, such as milk shakes.

* Try drinking a commercial nutritional supplement, if you are too tired to fuss over making and eating a meal or snack. Nutritional supplements are often a good source of calories, vitamins, and minerals.

*Allow yourself to give into a craving and enjoy it, if your appetite has been poor and you suddenly find yourself wanting something in particular.

Suggested tips:
1. Eat a small meal or snack before treatments.
2. Bring a small meal or snack along to eat after chemotherapy.
3. Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are nauseous, vomiting, or have diarrhea.
4. Consume the largest meal when feeling best during the day.
5. Avoid foods with strong odors and high-fat foods, to avoid nausea.
6. Eat nutrient-dense foods.
7. Blend foods in smoothies and shakes, for appeal and easier digestion.
8. Allow yourself to give into a cravings.

Next Steps: Fighting tiredness.

1. Think about convenience meals.
2. Allow friends or family to help.
3. Consider frozen meals or a high quality meal services.
4. Get takeout from your favorite restaurants.
5. Graze, rather than taking the time to prepare a whole meal.
6. Choose healthy foods such as: Cereal and milk, cheese and crackers, fruits, nuts, pudding, small sandwiches, vegetables, yogurt

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