What to eat and what not to eat ? Diet tips for cancer patients
A constant dilemma which persists from cancer diagnosis until after treatment is what to eat during and after treatment. The questions are not just for cancer patients but caregiver too. The question of what to eat is even more of a concern for those with head and neck cancers where oral cavity is affected the most.
Intensive cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery can have multiple side effects such as difficulty in swallowing, constipation and mouth ulcers. Whatever these ideas effects may be, dietary changes in order to maintain muscle mass and prevent nutritional deficiencies is essential.
What can we eat during treatment
Plant based foods: Fruits and vegetables and whole cereals , in any form. Example are fruit smoothies, vegetable soups, salads.
High fibre foods: Green leafy vegetables completely cooked, whole legumes such as green gram, sprouted whole pulses, ragi, beans, oats, wheat dalia (or broken wheat).
Proteins in every meal: Dals, legumes, sprouts, curd, paneer , egg whites, fish.
Good fats: Almonds, ghee, nuts like walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds.
Lots of water: You will need plenty of water to cope with side effects like constipation and dehydration. Watery buttermilk, non sugary juices, mild green teas, are all ways of drinking enough water.
Protective foods: There is evidence that spices like turmeric and ginger not only have healing properties but also offer protection against development of cancer. Include them in your everyday food preparations
List of foods to avoid
Raw salads prepared outside
Store bought juices
Refined flour/ maida
Red meat, barbecued meat, smoked meat, burnt meat.
Fried chips, fries,
Too much salt in the form of ketchups, sauces etc.
Remember, these are general recommendations for patients undergoing treatment for most cancers, like breast cancer, cancer of lungs, some blood cancers, and head and neck cancer. If there is undesirable weight-loss, extreme fatigue, and eating problems, it is best to contact a certified nutritionist.
At Prameya Health, we have certified cancer nutritionists who can help you with your needs.