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How to Manage Common Eating Challenges
Optimize nutrition and minimize stress with these tried-and-true tips
Include protein at every meal. Protein helps
your body repair damaged cells, prevent infections and slow weight and muscle loss-all
important for optimizing your treatment. For
a little extra protein, sprinkle nuts, crumbled
hard-boiled eggs or cheese onto casseroles
or vegetables; boost sauces with dry milk
or protein powder; add beans to soups and
salads. Snack on nuts, yogurt, cheese, hardboiled eggs and protein bars.

Seek out easy-to-swallow foods. Dry mouth
and a sore throat are common side effects of
chemo or radiation. Try soft foods like pasta,
soups, stews, yogurt, fruits and well-cooked
vegetables and purees; moisten foods with
gravies and sauces. Your health-care team
can help you with other solutions like soothing mouth rinses and "thickeners" to add to
foods so they're easier to get down.

Fill up on fluids. Fever, vomiting or diarrhea
can make you dehydrated. Keep a bottle of
water handy and sip frequently. Decaf tea and
coffee are also great choices, and fluid-rich
foods like watermelon, tomatoes and soup all
count too. Go easy on sugary drinks.

Eat for your specific digestive issues.
You may deal with one or more of the
following GI issues during your treatment.

Stoke your appetite. If you don't feel much
like eating, try to get some fresh air and
physical activity, which may boost your hunger
level. Take small portions, which won't seem so
overwhelming. Try a smoothie or some soup if
you don't feel like solid foods. Make the most
of mornings, when appetite and energy levels
are often highest.
Experiment with different tastes. Radiation
and chemotherapy can affect how food smells
or tastes. Some people experience a metallic
taste; others find food tastes overly salty,
sweet or bitter. Try new dishes, and play with
spices. To lessen metallic taste, avoid canned
foods, use plastic utensils and glass cookware,
try adding a squeeze of lemon or a little vinegar.
Tame bitter flavors with a bit of salt or sugar.
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Nausea/vomiting: Your health-care team
can help you manage this with medication.
Consider smaller, more frequent meals of
foods easy on the stomach, like saltines,
pretzels, rice or potatoes; try foods warm
or cool, versus hot and cold.
Diarrhea: You might be prescribed
low-fiber easily digested foods like chicken-and-rice soup or cottage cheese, plus
plenty of fluids. Yogurt can help replenish
"good" bacteria in your digestive tract.
Constipation/abdominal pain:
Boosting fiber intake with veggies and
fruits (avoid those causing gas) can help, as
can getting plenty of fluids
and physical activity and
starting your day with
a hot beverage.

and digestive problems can develop, depending on your type of cancer and the therapy.
Know that eating problems usually come
and go, and for most people they go away
once treatment is complete, or soon after.
Just about all of them can be managed, too.
Work with your health-care team, and keep
the following in mind:
OTake advantage of good days. When you
have an appetite, eat well and amply-and,
if you're up for it, prepare meals to stock in
the fridge. On bad days, rely on easy food
options and let others help you.
OAim to eat every few hours. You might
set an alarm to remind you to have a snack.
Eating according to the clock rather than
only when you're hungry is often advised
because your appetite might not match your
body's needs for food and fluids.
OEat what you're able to. It's common
to have days where only one or two foods
appeal to you. You might develop aversions
to a food, then like it again later. Maybe
nothing will taste good to you for a while.
Be sure to let your health-care team know,
so that together you can find other ways
to bring in nutrition you can tolerate.
OMake every bite count.
If you're finding it hard to eat a lot
at a time or if you're losing weight
and need to add calories, reach
for nutrient-dense foods like nuts,
nut butters, eggs, cheese, dried
fruits, tofu, beans, poultry, fish
and meal-replacement shakes.

AFTER TREATMENT
Once you've finished active treatment, you
might be feeling lots of things: joy that it's
over, relief that side effects are easing up,
perhaps some anxiety that it's not truly over.
All these feelings are normal! Your health-care
team can help you prepare for and manage
this all-important transition to a new way of
life after cancer.
While many side effects go away, some-
like dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, changes
in your senses of taste and smell-may linger.
You may have lost weight, and want to put
it back on in a healthy way. Or, if you were
overweight before cancer, your health-care
team may be recommending you start making
changes to slowly lose those pounds once and
for all. It may sound surprising, but there has
never been a better time than now to make
positive changes in the way you eat and live.

Embrace the new normal
Through cancer, you've learned to have a
very close relationship with your body. You've
learned how it reacts to different treatments,
and how even small changes can be powerful.
Now, you can use what you've learned to
continue to move your lifestyle in a healthier
direction. Try making some small, manageable
changes at first, says the University of Arizona's Cynthia Thomson. For example, adding
an extra ½-cup serving of vegetables to
your plate at dinner, or grabbing a
piece of fruit for an afternoon snack
instead of chips. "Once you've made
a small change and succeeded at it,
your sense of self-efficacy builds,"
she explains. "And that will motivate
you to keep going and doing more."
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Nourish Digital Cookbook

Contents
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