HealthONE - October 31, 2018

Nutrition is one of the most important parts of your journey after you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Speeding up your recovery and maintaining your strength will require you eating a well-balanced diet before, during and after your treatment. Here are some helpful tips shared by registered dietitians for you to use during your treatment that will keep you pace for the best shot of successfully recovering. 

  1. Eat small portions, about every 2 ½ to 3 hours. Food intake in this manner will help make sure that your body is receiving plenty of calories and protein, as well as nutrients to be able to tolerate the treatment. So, five or six small portion sized meals per day, may also help you to lessen treatment-related side effects like nausea.

  2. Protein-rich foods are a smart choice. Protein greatly aids your body in repairing cells and tissues. It also assists your immune system to recover from sickness. You should plan to include a lean protein in all of your meals and snacks.

  3. Work in some whole grain foods. Keeping your energy levels up is important. A good source for fiber and carbohydrates is found in whole grain foods such as oatmeal, whole wheat breads, brown rice, and whole grain pastas.

  4. Include a variety of vegetables and fruits. Antioxidants help in the fight against cancer and they are found in vegetables and fruits. Try to eat at least five servings of whole vegetables and fruits daily. Remember, your vegetables and fruits should be cooked if you are undergoing treatments that may cause your immune system to be weak.

  5. Select healthy fat sources. You will need to avoid fatty, greasy, fried foods and instead select foods that are grilled, broiled, or baked. Some good healthy fats include olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados, to name a few.

  6. Cut down on sweets and added sugar. There is very little nutritional benefit from foods that are high in added sugar, and they often are eaten in place of foods that are healthy for you.

  7. Keep hydrated. Make it your goal to drink at least 64 ounces of fluid every day. Drinking plenty of good fluids is important, especially during cancer treatment. You should avoid drinking sugary, caffeinated drinks, because too much caffeine can dehydrate your body and hamper your recovery process.

  8. Good mouth care is essential. When you have radiation and chemotherapy in area that are close to your chest or head, it can really irritate the throat, esophagus, and lining of the mouth. This can make it much more difficult for you to eat and swallow. So, good mouth care is important, especially if your mouth is sore. Be sure to remember to brush your teeth with gentle toothpaste and floss every day.

  9. Good food safety. It's very important that you practice good food safety when preparing your meals. Wash your hands and use different knives and cutting boards for raw vegetables then for raw meat. Cook all foods to a temperature that is proper for safety standards and refrigerate leftover foods right away.

  10. Check with your healthcare team about taking vitamins and supplements. Always ask your healthcare team before taking any vitamins or supplements because some medications and cancer treatments may interact in a negative way with certain vitamins and supplements. Your first choice for nutrients should be from your daily food intake.

  11. If at all possible, avoid drinking alcohol. Dehydration can seriously hinder your immune system's ability to recover. Alcohol contributes to dehydration and provides no beneficial nutrients.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your cancer journey is very unique to your treatment. There is a possibility that you will have side effects that will affect your ability to follow all of these suggestions. Should you be struggling with side effects like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or any other nutritional challenges, please consult with your physician.