Nutrition Management

Nutrition Management

Nutrition management plays a role in building your immune system.

While radiation destroys the cancer cells, it may cause side effects such as fatigue and weight loss.  Specific recommendations include what to eat, what to avoid and many others.  

 

Fatigue

Meet calorie and protein needs

Recommendations:

  • Stock up on foods that are ready-to-eat or need little cooking.

  • Prepare foods ahead of time and freeze in meal-size portions.

  • Keep easy-to-carry snacks on hand.

Peanut butter crackers

Nuts 

Granola bars

Dried fruit

Applesauce 

  • Prepare smoothies and milkshakes and keep them in refrigerator for snacks.

  • Ask family members or friends to help with shopping and cooking during treatment. Ask for meal delivery from a restaurant or a service.

Consume adequate protein

Recommendations:

  • Eat high-protein foods with each meal to keep blood sugar more stable and provide sustained energy.

Poultry, fish, lean meats

Tofu and soy products

Beans and peas

Eggs

Cheese 

Milk, yogurt, ice cream

Nuts, nut butters, seeds

Maintain hydration

Recommendations:

  • Being dehydrated can make fatigue worse. Aim for at least 8 cups of fluids daily.

 

Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss

Meet calorie needs

Recommendations:

  • Eat several small meals and snacks a day instead of three large meals.

  • Try soft, cool foods.

Yogurt

Milkshakes 

Smoothies 

Ice cream 

  • Drink liquids or liquid supplements when it is hard to eat solid food.

Milkshakes

Smoothies 

Juices 

Boost® nutrition shake

Ensure® nutrition shake

Instant Breakfast

  • Add high-calorie foods to your diet.

Whole milk to cereals, hot chocolate

Regular cheese, sour cream, heavy cream to sandwiches, soups, vegetables, fruits

Regular butter, margarine to breads

Regular salad dressings

Dried fruits to muffins, cookies

  • Eat larger meals when you feel better. 

  • Keep easy-to-carry snacks nearby. 

Peanut butter crackers

Nuts 

Granola bars

Dried fruit

Applesauce 

  • Try drinking high-calorie beverages throughout the day.

Juices

Nectars

Milk

Soups

  • Eat a bedtime snack.

Get adequate protein

Recommendations:

  • Eat high-protein foods with each meal and eat them first when your appetite is good.

Poultry

Fish

Lean meat

Tofu

Beans and peas

Eggs

  • Add high-protein foods to your diet.

Cheese to sandwiches, soups, pasta, salads

Milk to cereals, soups, puddings

Ice cream, frozen yogurt to milkshakes, fruits, cakes

Eggs to sandwiches, salads, omelets, puddings

Nuts to muffins, pancakes, cookies, salads

Nut butters to toast, muffins, crackers, fruits

Beans to soups, pasta, salads

  • Try protein-rich powders to mix with liquids and drink them between meals.

Be physically active

Recommendations:

  • Try to be as physically active as you can.  Consider  going for a walk before meals to stimulate your appetite.

 

Taste Changes

Improve flavor

Recommendations:

  • Choose foods that look and smell good. 

  • Try other protein sources if red meat tastes different.

Poultry

Fish

Tofu

Beans

Eggs

Dairy products 

  • Marinate meats in sweet fruit juices, sour sauces, Italian dressing, or wine to improve the flavor.

  • Foods may taste better if served at room temperature or cold. 

  • Try tart foods and drinks if you don’t have sore mouth.

Orange juice

Lemonade

Lemon custard

  • Add sugar or sweetener to some foods to decrease salty, bitter, or unpleasant tastes.

  • Add extra flavors to your foods.

Bacon bits

Onion

Basil

Rosemary

Parsley

  • Use plastic forks and spoons to eat if you have a metal taste in your mouth.

Keep mouth clean

Recommendations:

  • Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth and tongue regularly, especially before eating to help clean your taste buds.

  • Go to the dentist to rule out dental problems that may change the taste or smell.

 

Sore Mouth and Throat

Increase calorie and protein intake

Recommendations:

  • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks rather than three large meals a day.

  • Add high-calorie foods to your diet.

Whole milk to cereals, hot chocolate

Regular cheese, sour cream, heavy cream to sandwiches, soups, vegetables, fruits

Regular butter, margarine to breads

Regular salad dressings

Dried fruits to muffins, cookies

  • Add high-protein foods to your diet.

Cheese to sandwiches, soups, pasta, salads

Milk to cereals, soups, puddings

Ice cream, frozen yogurt to milkshakes, fruits, cakes

Eggs to sandwiches, salads, omelets, puddings

Nuts to muffins, pancakes, cookies, salads

Nut butters (such as peanut or almond butter) to toast, muffins, crackers, fruits

Beans to soups, pasta, salads

  • Drink liquids or liquid supplements between meals.

Milkshakes

Smoothies 

Boost® nutrition shake

Ensure® nutrition shake

Instant Breakfast

Ease the soreness 

Recommendations:

  • Eat easy to chew and swallow foods.

Bananas, applesauce, canned fruits

Pureed or mashed fruits and vegetables

Oatmeal, cooked cereal

Macaroni and cheese

Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad

Scrambled eggs

Ground meats

Creamy soups

Cottage cheese, yogurt, milkshakes, ice cream

Custards, puddings, gelatin

  • Cook foods until they are soft and tender.

  • Cut foods into small pieces or puree them.

  • Moisten foods with soups, gravies, sauces to make them easier to swallow.

  • Eat room-temperature foods and drinks.

  • Avoid irritating foods.

Tart, acidic foods: oranges, orange juice, lemons, lemonade 

Spicy foods: hot sauce, curry, chili powder, peppers

Pickled or vinegary foods

Tomato-based foods: salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza

Salty foods

  • Avoid rough textured foods.

Dry toast

Granola

Crackers

Chips 

Raw vegetables

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and soda.

  • Suck on ice chips to soothe your mouth.

  • Drink with a straw.

Keep mouth clean

Recommendations:

  • Rinse your mouth several times a day with water or alcohol-free mouthwash.

  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.

 

Dry Mouth

Maintain hydration

Recommendations:

  • Drink at least 8 cups of liquids a day to stay hydrated.

  • Keep a bottle of fluid on hand and sip it every few minutes.

  • Avoid drinks and foods containing caffeine, alcohol, or too much sodium.

Stimulate saliva

Recommendations:

  • Eat sweet or tart foods and drinks if you don’t have sore mouth, like lemonade, lemon drops.

  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on hard candy, popsicles, ice chips.

  • Consider “artificial saliva”.

Increase moisture of mouth

Recommendations:

  • Eat soft, moist foods that are cool or at room temperature. 

Bananas, applesauce, canned fruits

Pureed or mashed fruits and vegetables

Oatmeal, cooked cereal

Macaroni and cheese

Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad

Scrambled eggs

Ground meats

Creamy soups

Cottage cheese, yogurt, milkshakes, ice cream

Custards, puddings, gelatin

  • Moisten foods with gravies, soup, or sauces.

  • Rinse your mouth before and after meals with plain water or mild mouthwash.

  • Keep lips moist with lip balm.

  • Quit smoking.

 

Nausea and Vomiting

Meet calorie needs

Recommendations:

  • Eat small, frequent meals. A small portion of food is easier to tolerate.

  • Add high-calorie foods to your diet.

Whole milk to cereals, hot chocolate

Regular cheese, sour cream, heavy cream to sandwiches, soups, vegetables, fruits

Regular butter, margarine to breads

Regular salad dressings

Dried fruits to muffins, cookies

  • Add high-protein foods to your diet.

Cheese to sandwiches, soups, pasta, salads

Milk to cereals, soups, puddings

Ice cream, frozen yogurt to milkshakes, fruits, cakes

Eggs to sandwiches, salads, omelets, puddings

Nuts to muffins, pancakes, cookies, salads

Nut butters to toast, muffins, crackers, fruits

Beans to soups, pasta, salads

  • Try liquid supplements.

Milkshakes

Smoothies 

Boost® nutrition shake

Ensure® nutrition shake

Instant Breakfast

Control nausea

Recommendations:

  • Eat foods that are easy on your stomach.

Beef, poultry, fish

Cheese

Eggs

Pasta

Refined cereals

White bread, white rice, white toast

Well-cooked vegetables

Bananas, canned fruits

Peanut butter

Frozen yogurt, ice cream

Custard, pudding, gelatin, sherbet, sorbet, popsicles

  • Serve foods and drinks at room temperature or cooler. Hot foods can make nausea worse.

  • Drink fluids between meals rather than with meals.

  • Do not skip meals and snacks. An empty stomach makes nausea worse.

  • Avoid foods with strong odors.

  • Avoid high-fat, greasy, spicy, or overly sweet foods.

  • If you have nausea in the morning, try dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed.

  • If nausea occurs during treatment, avoid eating 1-2 hours before treatment.

  • Take anti-nausea medicine as prescribed.

Control vomiting

Recommendations:

  • Avoid eating or drinking until vomiting is controlled.

  • Then try sipping on small amounts of clear liquids.

Bouillon

Clear broth

Cranberry juice, grape juice

Weak tea

Gelatin

Hard candy

Honey

Jelly

Popsicles

Clear nutrition supplements

  • Progress to full liquids when you can tolerate clear liquids.

Refined cereals

Broth

Milk, milkshakes, smoothes

Fruit juices, vegetables juices

Tea

Custard, gelatin, pudding, sherbet, sorbet

Frozen yogurt, ice cream

Nutrition supplements

Maintain hydration

Recommendations:

  • Aim for at least 8 cups of fluids daily. Drink fluids that are easy on your stomach.

Clear broth

Soups 

Milk

Tea

Cranberry juice

Vegetable juices

  • Drinks fluids throughout the day. Drink slowly or sip liquids through a straw.

 

Diarrhea

Meet calorie need

Recommendations:

  • Eat small frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. 

  • Eat foods at room temperature.

Control diarrhea

Recommendations:

  • Eat low-fiber foods. High-fiber foods can make diarrhea worse.

Poultry, fish

Cooked refined cereal

Eggs

Potatoes

White bread, white toast

Cooked carrots, string beans

Canned fruits (peaches, pears, applesauce)

Mushrooms

Custard, gelatin, sherbet, sorbet

Yogurt

Graham crackers, saltine crackers, wafers

  • Avoid foods that may cause diarrhea.

High-fiber foods: whole wheat breads, pasta

Drinks with a lot of added sugar: regular soda, fruit punch

Greasy, fried foods: fries, hamburgers

Foods that can cause gas: cooked dried beans, raw fruits and vegetables

Milk products that contain lactose

Spicy foods: pepper, hot sauce, salsa, chili

Foods and drinks with caffeine

Foods high in xylitol or sorbitol 

Alcohol 

  • Drink and eat foods containing sodium and potassium after each loose bowel movement.

Bouillon

Broth

Bananas

Canned apricots

Fruit juices

Potatoes

Maintain hydration

Recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Aim for at least 8 cups a day. Liquids at room temperature may be easier to tolerate.

  • Drink at least 1 cup of liquids after each loose bowel movement.

  • Drink only clear liquids for 12-14 hours after a sudden diarrhea to help bowels rest and replace the fluids you lost.

Bouillon

Clear broth

Cranberry juice, grape juice

Weak tea

Gelatin

Hard candy

Honey

Jelly

Popsicles

Clear nutrition supplements

 

Constipation

Control constipation

Recommendations:

  • Eat high-fiber foods.

Bran muffins

Bran/whole-grain cereals

Cooked dried beans and peas

Nuts, nut butters, seeds

Whole-wheat bread, pasta

Corn, popcorn

Apples, berries

Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, spinach

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams

Granola

  • Drinking hot liquids may help relieve constipation.

Coffee

Tea

Soups

Maintain hydration

Recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Aim for at least 8 cups a day.

 


References
1.    American Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Resource Living with Cancer. Click here for online document
2.    American Institute for Cancer Research, Healthy Eating and Activity for Living: A Cancer Nutrition Guide. Click here for online document
3.    American Cancer Society, Nutrition for the Person With Cancer During Treatment: A Guide for Patients and Families. Click here for online document