We  all  know  what  is  a  healthy  balanced  diet  (At  least we   think  we do ) . Most  nutrition   guidelines recommend  lots  of  green  leafy  vegetables,  fruits  and whole  grains  along  with  limiting  the  intake  of processed  foods,  sugar ,  alcohol,  tobacco  salt  and maintaining an age- height appropriate weight.

But  when  you  are  suffering  from  cancer ,  these guidelines  can  be  difficult  to  follow  as  you  need  to fight  the  disease  itself  as  well  as  the  Stress  of treatment.

Nutrition  is  one  of  the  most  important  aspect  of cancer  treatment,  because  healthy  body  tolerates  the treatment better and recovers fast!! Isn’t it logical?

Almost  always,  a  change  in  diet  is  essential  to  help build  up  the  strength  and  withstand  the  effects  of cancer  and  its  treatment.  Now ,  who  likes  a  sudden major  change  in  their  life style?  This  is  the  reason  why majority of cancer patients find it difficult to follow the “ cancer nutrition guidelines” .

When  you  are  diagnosed  with  cancer ,  your  oncologist will  talk  about  the  treatment  plan.  which  may  include surgery ,  radiation  therapy ,  chemotherapy ,  hormonal therapy  or  combination  of  treatments.  All  these treatments,  essentially  target  the  cancer  cells,  but  our  healthy  cells  bear  the  brunt  as  well.  This  damage  to the normal cells, is what causes side effects.

Approach  to  nutrition  differs  in  cancer  patients,  as compared  to  general  population.  For  instance,  cancer patients  need  high  fat,  high  calorie  food  to  maintain their  weight  because  Basal  Metabolic  Rate  (BMR) increases  significantly  in  all  cancer  patients  along  with increase  in  requirements  of  calorie,  fat  &  protein  by 1.5  to  2  times  as  compared  to  that  of  a  healthy individual.  Some patients  need soft  and cold foods like ice-cream  or  milk  shakes  as  they  are  unable  to  eat solids due to oral ulcers

Some  common  side  effects  that  can  affect  nutrition are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Oral ulcers
  • Dry mouth
  • Change in taste or smell
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stool
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue (Feeling tired all the time)

Not  all  patients  suffer  from  these  side  effects.  These are  dependent  on  multiple  factors  like  the  type  of cancer ,  stage  of  cancer ,  part  of  body  affected,  general health of patient and type, dose & length of treatment. Most  side  effects  can  be  managed  by  medicines, lifestyle  change  and  positive  attitude.  They  even reduce  over  time  once  the  treatment  is  completed.  Discussions  with  your  oncologist  or  cancer  team  will make it easy to deal with it.