MINIMIZING SIDE EFFECTS OF CANCER TREATMENTS

Contributed by COURTNEY VICKERY, MS, RD, LD
ST. MARY’S WELLNESS CENTER: NUTRITION SERVICES

Nutrition during Chemotherapy
Dealing with nausea
o Eat five to six meals a day. Avoid having your stomach become completely empty.
o Go natural. Natural ginger soda, ginger tea and ginger candies may combat nausea.
o Consider eating cool, light foods. Avoid greasy, high-fat foods. o Drink liquids between, rather than with, meals.
o Avoid food odors, staying out of the kitchen during food preparation if you can.

Dealing with Diarrhea
o Eat small frequent meals.
o Try nibbling salty foods, including crackers and pretzels, to replace lost sodium.
o Keep non-caffeinated fluids handy, and sip slowly and consistently through the day.
o Sip non-acidic juices such as apricot, peach or pear nectars. o Again, drink fluids between, rather than with, meals.

Sore or dry mouth and throat
o Try soft and liquid foods, such as smoothies, warm soup, thin oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, pudding, mashed potatoes and canned fruit.
o Soften food with milk, broth, sauces or gravy.
o Sip warm, caffeine-free tea.
o Try frozen grapes, cantaloupe wedges, peach slices or watermelon.
o Avoid irritating or acidic items, including citrus, crunchy or dry foods, hot coffee, alcohol and foods with small seeds.

Lack of appetite

o Eat five or six small meals each day, instead of two or three.
o Keep snacks handy; hunger may last just a few minutes. Try granola bars,
fruit, nuts, yogurt, pudding, pretzels, hard-boiled eggs and canned fruit.
o Eat your favorite foods any time of the day.
o Drink fat-free or low-fat milk, fruit juice or smoothies. Avoid filling up on fluids with no calories, such as water, coffee or tea.

Stress/weight gain, etc.
o Some people gain excess pounds because they eat due to stress or anxiety. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is stressful. When snacking, reach for the healthiest options you can, such as fruit, yogurt or vegetables with hummus dip.
o If you find yourself turning to food for comfort, ask your nurse about options for managing anxiety and stress. Most cancer centers offer free or low-cost counseling, support groups, art therapy, massages and a variety of other coping tools.
o Fatigue and busy treatment schedules can limit activity. Work with your family and friends to carve out a little active “me” time. Light to moderate exercise, such as walking, is the best prescription for fatigue, and it can keep the scale in neutral territory.