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Nutrition is always important, but when you are battling cancer it is a necessity.

You may be aware that some cancers as well as their treatments can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, change in taste and sensitivities to smell.

These suggestions are to help combat some of the obstacles to maintaining the good nutritional intake you need to help in your recovery.

  • Prior to treatment, bland, light low-fat foods such as cereals, oatmeal, bread, apple sauce and fruit cocktails may help prevent nausea.
  • For the first several days after your treatment, try to avoid high fat, fried, greasy foods.
  • Keep well hydrated.  Drink at least ten 8 oz glasses of water per day.  Keep non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids available at all times.
  • Drink fluids between rather than with meals, so that you do not feel too full to eat.
  • Eat smaller portions more frequently.
  • Schedule your meals, so that you do not need to rely on hunger cues.
  • Add protein to your diet with between meal milkshakes, puddings, protein shakes/bars.
  • Exercise before meals may help stimulate your appetite.
  • If possible, try making your mealtimes as relaxed and pleasant as possible.
  • Having a well stocked pantry and some pre-prepared frozen meals will also be of great help.

If you are having problems with changes in smell and/or taste:

  • Keep your mouth clean by rinsing and brushing.
  • Rinsing with ginger ale, salted water, or water with baking soda may also help.
  • Use tart flavors like lemons, pickles, and vinegar to flavor your foods.  This may also stimulate your tastebuds. (Avoid these acidic foods if you have mouth sores.)
  • Tart candies and mints may also reduce bitter/sour tastes.
  • Avoid foods with strong odors.
  • Try eating tepid/room temperature food and drink .
  • Use plastic utensils if you are experiencing a metallic/bitter taste.
  • Add extra seasonings. Increase sugar to decrease bitterness.
  • Try new foods. Maybe you'll discover a new favorite!

Many nutrition tips courtesy of Clegg & Miletello, Eating Well Through Cancer.  Favorite Recipes Press. 2006.


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