16 posts tagged “food”

How cancer affects diet + pointers for trying to eat well

Posted September 8th, 2017 by

Many PatientsLikeMe members have talked in the forum about the dietary impact of lung cancer treatment and how it has hindered their eating. As many as 40 to 60 percent of patients with lung cancer experience unintentional weight loss.

Eating well (or as best you can) during and after cancer treatment can help you keep up your body weight, strength and ability to fight off infection. With the help of our Health Data Integrity Team, we’ve rounded up some diet and nutrition pointers for people with lung cancer.

Treatment side effects impacting diet

Everyone responds differently to treatments, and side effects vary in severity for patients, but here are some common ways treatments can affect your diet.

  • Surgery – Recovery requires extra energy and nutrients to heal wounds, fight infection and recover (physically and emotionally). If your weight is below normal, either before or after surgery, work with your care team to develop a nutrient-rich eating plan.
  • Chemotherapy – It aims to kill cancer cells, but chemo may also damage healthy cells in the mouth, stomach and intestines. This may result in mouth sores, taste changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. When more than one drug is given (as is often the case in lung cancer chemotherapy), more side effects may occur and they may be more severe.
  • Radiation therapy – The high-energy rays can harm normal, healthy cells in the treatment area (often the chest and back). This may cause difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, taste changes, sore mouth or sore throat. Increasing fatigue and decreased appetite can also make it difficult to prepare meals and eat.
  • Immunotherapy – This emerging form of cancer treatment uses your immune system to fight cancer cells by more effectively recognizing and attacking them. Some people experience loss of appetite, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, constipation and diarrhea (which can result in dehydration).

What can you do before treatment?

As you prepare for lung cancer treatment, it’s important to eat well in order to maintain a healthy weight, keep up your energy and strength and take in the foods and nutrients your body needs (such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and plenty of water). These steps can also help before your treatment begins:

  • Work with your physician, care team and/or a registered dietician to make nutrition goals that work with your current body weight, body mass index (BMI), treatment plan and any other health conditions you may have. Your doctor may advise you to eat healthy but try to avoid losing weight or dropping too much weight (if weight loss is a common side effect of your treatment regimen).
  • Stock up your pantry and freezer with healthy food and ready-to-eat meals and snacks. Include food that you can eat when you’re feeling sick (like some low-fiber foods that may not irritate your digestive system as much).
  • Ask or allow friends and family members to help you prepare meals you can freeze and eat later. Also, check out meal delivery services, such as Meals on Wheels and Savor Health.

What can you do during treatment?

It can be hard to predict which side effects you’ll experience, and how severe they’ll be. Stay in close contact with your care team about how your treatment is affecting your diet – they may prescribe something to help you. These tips and tricks can also come in handy, depending on the side effects you experience

  • Eat five or six smaller meals, every couple of hours each day. Try to take in plenty of protein and calories, as well as a few servings of colorful produce. Smaller portions may be more tolerable than three large meals a day.
  • A few times a week, try eating plant-based foods (such as beans and veggies) instead of meat-based meals.
  • Eat foods that appeal to you. Don’t force yourself to eat something that doesn’t look good or makes you feel nauseated.
  • Avoid eating your favorite foods when you feel nauseated. This may cause a negative association with that food.
  • Stay hydrated with water or low-sugar juice and sports drinks throughout the day. Some people feel more ill when they try to eat and drink too much at the same time, so try sipping a drink with your meal or having a larger drink around 30 minutes before or after you eat.
  • Stay as active as possible, which may stimulate your appetite – while also getting plenty of rest.
  • Talk with your doctor before taking any new medications, supplements or treatments for nausea, diarrhea or constipation (even over-the-counter or alternative treatments).

How about after treatment?  

Following cancer treatment, many people experience a dry or sore mouth and throat, as well as changes in smell and taste – sometimes called “metal mouth.” Here are some ideas to help you manage:

  • Eat soft, moist food that’s easier to chew and swallow. Using some extra sauce or dressing can help soften food.
  • Avoid acidic food and drinks that may cause pain, such as citrus, alcohol, caffeine, vinegar, spicy food and carbonated drinks. Also, avoid coffee, tea and soda because caffeine and carbonation may worsen dry mouth.
  • Eat food and drink at room temperature because hot or cold food may irritate your mouth.
  • If some foods no longer taste good to you or taste too bland, try new flavors and spices to “trick your taste buds,” and add some sea salt.
  • Use plastic utensils, if metal ones cause a bad taste in your mouth.
  • If water or food taste metallic, add some citrus (such as a squeeze of lemon or lime).
  • If food tastes bitter or harsh, consider adding a bit of sweetness with sugar or grade-A pasteurized honey (avoid raw honey).

Which diet-related side effects have you experienced with cancer treatment? Join our community today to talk about topics like this with patients like you.

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GF + DF recipe from LupusChick: Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl

Posted August 24th, 2017 by

Our partner Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana, founder of LupusChick, blogs about healthy cooking and living with lupus and other chronic conditions. Check out this gluten-free, dairy-free recipe she wanted to share with the lupus community (or anyone who’d like to try it) before berry season winds down!

One of my favorite aspects about summer is seeing berries and dragon fruit line the shelves at my local grocer. Berries are incredibly versatile, landing in everything in my kitchen from galettes and pancakes to focaccia and of course, smoothies. But not every smoothie is meant to be consumed in a glass. Cue the smoothie bowl…

My berry bliss smoothie bowl is one of my top breakfast choices. Raspberries and pineapple deliver vitamin C and potassium, while almond milk, flax and collagen powder add necessary fiber and protein. Plus, the addition of coconut oil supplies the body with healthy fats in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (which are a terrific fuel and energy source).

I topped this smoothie bowl off with fresh dragon fruit and blueberries, but feel free to add toppings such as: sliced almonds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, yogurt or even edible flowers. No matter what combination you come up with, this smoothie bowl is sure to be as healthy as it is beautiful.

Enjoy!

XOXO Marisa, Founder of LupusChick

Photo courtesy of Marisa, LupusChick

BERRY BLISS SMOOTHIE BOWL (Gluten-free, dairy-free)

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 1 bowl

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

¾ cup fresh pineapple chunks

½ cup fresh raspberries

1 tsp. ground flax seeds

¼ cup almond or coconut milk

½ tsp. coconut oil

1 scoop collagen powder (I used Further Food brand)

Directions

Place the frozen banana, pineapple, raspberries, ground flax seeds, milk substitute and coconut oil into a high-power blender (such as a Ninja Professional Blender). Blend for 15 to 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy. Stir in collagen powder at the end. Collagen powder is extremely fine and dissolves completely with a quick stir by hand. Transfer into your bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice.

Tips for Your Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl

  • If you prefer a thicker smoothie, add less milk substitute when blending.
  • Collagen powder, such as Further Food’s product, dissolves completely in any liquid and has no taste. If you prefer to use a heavier protein powder such as rice or hemp, add this to your blender instead of stirring in by hand.

On PatientsLikeMe

More than 27,000 members are sharing about their experiences with lupus. Join the community today to get more ideas like this for living better with your condition.

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