Michelle MacDonald is a registered dietitian at National Jewish Health who teaches cancer patients how to eat healthy during treatment. Watch this video to learn how eating with a purpose can keep you strong and help your body heal during cancer treatment.
It’s important to eat regular, nutrient rich and well-balanced meals during cancer treatment.
Everyone will have their own calorie requirements.
What’s most important is that you eat enough calories to maintain your weight.
Weight loss, even if you carry extra weight, is not recommended during treatment.
Protein is important during cancer treatment.
It strengthens your immune system and helps repair your body.
So I recommend you anchor your meals with a good portion of chicken, fish or seafood or turkey.
It might be something like a 4 ounce portion, which is the size of my hand in size and thickness, to go with all of your main meals.
Vegetables are also important.
Think of a lot of color and variety.
I usually recommend large portions, two handfuls, of vegetables with your main meals.
All fruit is good, and I generally recommend eating fruit near the end of your meal or if you are having it with a snack add some protein there, it could nuts or nut butter, so that you reduce your blood sugar spikes after you eat.
There are some foods you should consider avoiding or limiting during cancer treatment.
Red meat is something that I would have you limit to about one or two small servings per week and, if possible, I would have you avoid all processed meats.
We also want you to limit your sugary drinks and sweets.
These are your very rapidly absorbed carbohydrates.
It’s okay to indulge in some of those, but we would have you do it near the end of the meal or after the meal so, again, you reduce your blood sugar spike after you eat.
It’s important to speak to your health care team about any herbs or supplements that you might taking as well as any experimental diets that you might be trying as these could interact with your medications
Develop a mindset that food is like medicine.
You take it by the clock on a schedule and you don’t miss a dose.
You have to eat with a purpose so that you do not waste away and get weak.
Visit njhealth.org/oncology to learn more about our multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment.
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