You may find it’s sometimes difficult to meet your nutritional goals since cancer can affect your sense of taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to absorb nutrients from food. But, it’s necessary to continue fueling your body with essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Each person’s nutritional goals are different based on a range of factors. Nutritional needs are dependent on height, weight, and any other illnesses or diseases, like diabetes or heart disease.
It’s a good idea to work with your treatment team to determine the best nutritional plan for you during treatment.
You can also find recipe inspiration for easy-to-make meals and snacks.
Tips for Choosing and Preparing Meals
Lung cancer treatment often comes with a lack of appetite, nausea, throat pain, and difficulty swallowing. All of these factors can make eating difficult. Maintaining a consistent, healthy diet may make a world of a difference in your strength. Consider these helpful tips when planning your weekly meals:
- Since your throat may be tender, have foods that are soft and non-irritating
- Avoid foods that are spicy or acidic, like citrus and foods that contain tomato
- Avoid foods that are sharp or have rough edges, such as raw fruits and vegetables, pretzels, or crackers
- Try steaming vegetables to make them soft, so they are easier to chew and swallow
- Try thicker liquids, like a milkshake or smoothie, which can be easier to swallow
- Drink plenty of fluids between meals
Although no one food can prevent or cure cancer, choosing nutritious foods can have an impact and can contribute to your overall health. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about nutrition or if you’re planning on making any changes to your diet.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Between treatments and the cancer itself, maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge. Though it can be difficult, eating a well-balanced diet during and after cancer treatment is important in maintaining your strength.
If you’re really struggling to eat due to a lack of appetite, try eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. Consuming smaller meals may also help reduce treatment-related side effects like nausea. Drinking smoothies is also a great way to get the nutrients that your body needs.
Nutrition & Side Effects
Did you know that certain foods can worsen some side effects of treatment? Some of these side effects include diarrhea, constipation, or mouth sores.
To help prevent these side effects, try sticking to foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber. Here are some examples:
- Low-fat dairy items
- Canned, frozen, or cooked fresh vegetables
- Fruit and vegetable juices
- Carbohydrates (like bread and pasta) made with refined white flour
- Rice, oatmeal, and cream of wheat
- Poultry, lean fish, and shellfish that are grilled, baked, or otherwise cooked without adding fat
- Pudding, creamy peanut butter, and custard
- Soup (broth in particular)