Breast Cancer & Diet: Foods People In Chemotherapy Should Eat

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald October 21, 03:46 am
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A breast cancer diagnosis is commonly followed by chemotherapy and other treatments, with many patients taking on a healthier lifestyle. It typically involves eating the healthiest foods in the hopes of easing the symptoms and side effects of breast cancer.

Adele Hug, an oncology dietitian at Macmillan Cancer Support, said that breast cancer patients' positive lifestyle choices help them regain "a sense of control," The Huffington Post reported. It also makes them feel like they are doing the best to improve their health.

Dr. Emma Pennery, a clinical director at Breast Cancer Care, said that breast cancer patients can get confused over the numerous conflicting theories about which diet is best for their condition. In truth, Pennery said that "there are no specific foods people should eat."

"Make sure you eat and drink what you feel able to. Eating little and often can help, as does maintaining a balanced diet," Pennery added.

Experts advised breast cancer patients in chemotherapy to follow a nutritious and well-balanced diet that's composed of fruits and vegetables. People with breast cancer should also eat plenty of starchy foods especially ones loaded with carbohydrates.

Other foods experts advise breast cancer patients going through chemotherapy to eat are protein-rich foods (e.g. meat, fish, eggs, poultry, nuts, and pulses), milk and dairy foods (cheese, cream, and yogurt), and small amounts of food that contain salt, sugar, and fat. According to Hug, there aren't any specific foods people in chemotherapy should avoid but it's important that they follow food safety rules.

Chemotherapy weakens a person's immune system, thus making the body more vulnerable to infections, Hug explained. This is why good food hygiene is essential. Some examples of good hygiene are washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly, cooking food properly and preparing food in a clean area.

Chemotherapy's side effects (e.g. nausea and sore mouth) can make breast cancer patients lose their appetites. When this happens, Hug advised patients to "don't worry too much" about what they eat and "just eat what you can."

It's better to eat little but often instead of consuming large servings of food while on chemotherapy. If a breast cancer patient's appetite is really down, he/she must keep drinking fluids instead.

Keeping high-calorie and high-protein snacks on hand is also vital. That includes hard-cooked eggs, peanut butter, trail mix, ice cream, granola bars and canned tuna or chicken, Cancer.org listed.

As for post-chemotherapy, Pennery advised patients to drink alcohol only in moderation, avoid consuming sugar-filled and fatty foods and drinks, and to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises the risk of breast cancer coming back.

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