Food Safety during Cancer Treatment – A Stepwise Guide

Food Safety during Cancer Treatment - A Stepwise Guide

Food Safety during Cancer Treatment – A Stepwise Guide

Food Safety is critical during cancer treatment to avoid food borne illnesses and to minimize side effects of treatment. 

This is a stepwise guide from Krupa Prashanth, a Certified Cancer Nutritionist, to safely prepare and store food during your cancer treatment.

Food Preparation Guide 

  1. First and very important step is to wash your hands in warm soapy water.

  2. Use separate cutting boards for fruits or vegetables and meat. 

  3. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water to get rid of dirt and bacteria. 

  4. Keep food refrigerated immediately after purchase. Keep in mind that plant foods undergo degradation from the time they are plucked whether we like it or not. 

Cooking Guide

It is best to cook all the vegetables completely and  pressure cooking is one of the best methods to do this. Some of the benefits of pressure cooking are: 

  1. Minimizes nutrient loss.

  2. Suitable for Indian ingredients by retaining vapour and hence flavour.

  3. Pressure cooking takes place at a lower temperature compared to other cooking methods such as microwave or open top. Bringing food to very high temperatures is not recommended due to nutrient loss and production of carcinogenic compounds.

Note: Do not burn or char food.

Food Storage Guide

The most common method of storing food is refrigeration. It is important to keep vegetables and fruits covered in airtight containers. Meat should be frozen. Check for the temperature of your fridge and make sure it is below 4 degree celsius. 

Do not subject cooked food through multiple cycles of refrigeration and reheating. It is of course best to consume fresh food rather than make large quantities and reheat them for later use. 

General food safety guidelines

  1. Do not eat raw cut fruits and vegetables served outside in order to food borne illnesses.

  2. Do not eat or buy sprouts from outside. 

  3. Do not drink raw or fresh fruit juices from vendors and juice bars. 

  4. Do not consume unpasteurized milk.

  5. Do not eat raw eggs .

  6. Do not eat Meat and Fish which is not completely cooked. This is to ensure that the food borne pathogens are destroyed. 

This is a general guideline for food safety to be followed during cancer treatment. However, it’s best to consult a nutritionist regarding your food preparation and dietary requirements. 

Seek help to get some direction regarding healthy eating. Onco nutritionists and therapists trained in supportive care can guide you. Remember it is important to keep them informed about what medications you are taking and what diet plans you are following. The safest and the most effective plan would be one that addresses your overall diet. No fad diet is sustainable or healthy in the long run.

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