Most specialty hospitals treating breast cancer patients have an in-house nutritionist. In consultation with the doctors, they prepare specific diet plans and also educate the patient about their calorie requirements, what to eat and what to avoid. More importantly, they work with the patients in managing side effects, taste changes, changes in eating patterns – all this with a healthy diet. If your hospital does not have a nutritionist, your doctor is likely to refer one or you can also consult someone externally.
Foods to include
When a patient has nausea they should eat foods like toast, cereal, and crackers in small quantities. Ginger ale, ginger tea, and ginger candy are of great help too. Also, including yogurt, fruit juice, and sports drinks accelerate recovery.
Gradually increase quantities of phytochemicals as they contain antioxidant, anti-estrogen, and chemo-preventive components that aid in faster recovery. Phytochemicals are abundantly found in foods, vegetables, and fruits. Vegetables are also a great source of fiber, which helps reduce any hormonal cancer growth. It is recommended that breast cancer patients include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, kohlrabi, kale, and spinach are powerhouse vegetables that should become part of their diet.
Whole grains have a complex and super combination of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Bread made with whole grains like wheat, rye, oats, rice, corn, bulgur, and barley should be consumed. Pancakes made with whole grain flour are a great option. Whole grain cereal flakes, bagels, sandwiches, rolls are also healthy meal options. Some whole grains like wild rice and barley can be used in soups and salads. Whole grains can replace white rice and have with curries.
Lean protein supplies the necessary protein to the body. Protein is a must for recovery. Fish and poultry are recommended over red meat. Including fish thrice a week provides the body with adequate quantities of omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids. These acids have been proven to hinder the growth of cancerous cells. Plant-based proteins like legumes and lentils are recommended too.
Include food rich in Vitamins D as it helps improve immunity, prevents cancer and, mostly, its recurrence.
Foods to avoid
When a person has nausea they should avoid greasy and fried foods, foods with a strong smell, as well as hot and spicy foods. Avoid or limit unsaturated foods like red meat like beef, lamb, and other organ meats. Dairy items like cheese, butter, and ice-cream must be avoided. Also, avoid eating food that has trans fatty acids and processed ingredients, such as factory-made cakes and pastries, sausages and ready-to-eat packaged foods, and rich and sugary cookies and crackers. It is critical to abstain from smoking and alcohol.
Eat when you are hungry; do not force yourself to eat. At the same time, do not go without food for a long time. Planned, smaller, and more frequent meals can help you during phases of nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. Try and eat fresh food as much as possible. Once your health improves, make a chart of your calorie intake and ensure you eat enough calories that your body requires. Avoid binge eating. If you are feeling stressed, distract yourself with reading, or any such activity that comforts you. All this along with exercise and proper medication go a long way in faster recovery and preventing recurrence of cancer.