Nutrition

Maintaining good eating habits during treatment may help you feel better sooner

The right intake makes for a healthier outlook

Eating healthy

You probably hear a lot about eating healthy and eating right. Advice on eating a balanced diet may sometimes be conflicting, especially in women with breast cancer. Always consider that it is important to eat healthy during and after treatment. Healthy eating can make a difference in how you feel, how much energy you have, and affect your general well-being.1 While individual advice may be different, experts generally agree on some general principles for healthy eating. These include:2

  • Increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Decreasing fat intake
  • Minimising intake of cured and smoked foods
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Consuming alcohol in moderation

During treatment

Treatments for breast cancer can have a variety of side effects, and fitting in good eating habits into a rigorous treatment schedule may even be challenging. Your eating habits and appetite may also change as a result of treatment. Surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiotherapy can all have an impact on how you feel.3

Consider the following to help you maintain a healthy diet that can make you feel better:3

  • If you can’t always eat regular meals, think about taking a snack with you that you can eat on the go
  • If you don’t feel like eating, eat smaller meals or snacks several times a day
  • Drink shakes, smoothies, soups or other liquid foods as an alternative if you don’t feel like having solid food

Be sure to tell your doctor(s) about any side effects you are experiencing that affect your appetite, such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores. There are medications available that will likely help you get over these side effects.3

You may find that your body weight has changed, and you may have gained or lost weight. During recovery, try to maintain or achieve a healthy body weight. According to some research, weight gain has been found to be associated with worse outcomes for breast cancer patients. Therefore, good eating habits should be a routine part of your recovery, as should some physical activity, which can help you feel as good as possible.2,4

Remember, although having good eating habits during treatment is important, do not force dietary changes on yourself too rapidly: use good judgement and adopt any changes slowly.

 

  1. https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/living-beyond-breast-cancer/your-body/diet-breast-cancer-0 [Last accessed Dec 2016].
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/breast_center/treatments_services/nutrition.html [Last accessed Dec 2016].
  3. https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/living-beyond-breast-cancer/your-body/diet-during-treatment-breast-cancer [Last accessed June 2017].
  4. Champ CE, et al. Int J Breast Cancer. 2012;2012:506868.

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