Nutrition is an important part of your treatment plan. It is important to eat well during your treatment. Eating well helps you feel better, keep up your strength and energy, keep up your weight and your body’s store of nutrients, tolerate treatment-related side effects, lower your risk of infection, and heal and recover faster. Cancer and blood disorder treatments can affect the way you eat and the way your body uses nutrients.
Side effects from treatment are possible but do not happen to everyone. It is important to be aware of side effects of treatment, how they affect your nutrition, and know how to manage them. See information under “managing physical side effects” for information on how to deal with side effects that affect how you eat.
This section provides you with information on maintaining good nutrition during treatment.
Eating a wide variety of foods so your body gets the nutrients it needs to support itself while fighting illness. The nutrients your body needs are protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.
- Protein is a source of calories for your body. Protein helps your tissues rebuild and repair and keeps our immune system working. Protein is found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, dried beans, peas, and lentils, tofu, tempeh, and soy beans.
- Carbohydrates are a source of calories for your body. Carbohydrates give your body energy and help your organs work properly. Carbohydrates are found in milk, yogurt, starches, starchy vegetables, and fruit
- Fat is a source of calories for your body. Fat insulates body tissues, help your body absorb certain nutrients, and help with the flavor of food. Fats are found in vegetable oils, butter, nuts and seeds, avocado, cream cheese and sour cream
- Water and fluid prevents dehydration. Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day. This can be anything liquid at room temperature. Some examples are water, juice, sports drinks, gelatin, popsicles, and ice chips.
- Vitamins and minerals help the body grow and stay strong and help your body break down food for energy. The best way to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals is to eat a wide variety of foods choosing from each food group. If you are note eating a balanced diet while you go through treatment, ask your doctor or dietitian if you should take a multivitamin. Always discuss vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements with your healthcare team. Many supplements interfere with cancer treatment.
Tips for Eating During Treatment
- Enlist the help of a family member or friend to help with meal preparation
- Keep easy to prepare foods on hand for quick snacks during the day
- Make meals ahead of time and freeze them to have on days when you feel more fatigued
- Try new foods. Taste changes during treatment might make some of your favorite foods less desirable. Don’t be afraid to try something you don’t normally like since it might taste good to you now.
- Eat small frequent meals and snacks during the day
- If you take any vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements, check with your healthcare team to make sure they are safe to take during treatment.
|High Calorie Addition||Where to Add It|
|Avocado (healthy fat )||
|Beans and legumes (protein boost, added fiber)||
|Butter or margarine (trans fat free) (high fat)||
|Canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil(healthy fat)||
|Cheese (protein boost, high fat)||
|Commercial nutrition supplements (protein boost, added calories)||
|Cottage cheese or ricotta cheese(protein boost, high fat)||
|Cream cheese (high fat)||
|Dried fruit (added calories, fiber boost)||
|Eggs, any style (protein boost)||
|Fresh fruit or canned fruit (added calories, fiber boost)||
|Granola (added calories)||
|Greek Yogurt or regular yogurt(protein boost)||
|Honey, jam, brown sugar (added calories)||
|Ice cream (high fat)||
|Milk or cream (high fat, protein boost)||
|Nuts and seeds (healthy fat, protein boost)||
|Peanut butter (healthy fat, protein boost)||
|Powdered milk (protein boost)||
|Sour cream (high fat)||
|Sweetened condensed milk (added calories)||
Sometimes during treatment, it is not possible to eat or drink enough by mouth. When this happens, people receive nutrition through a feeding tube. If you need a feeding tube, your healthcare team at the WMCC will set you up with the information and supplies you need.
WMCC Registered Dietitians
As a patient at the West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders, you have access to a registered dietitian. A registered dietitian has special training in food, nutrition, biochemistry, and physiology. Ask your doctor for a referral to set up a complimentary visit with one of WMCC’s registered dietitians.
Oncology Nutrition–Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Institute for Cancer Research