Cancer patients has a variety of therapy modalities ranging from medications, surgery, and radio/chemotherapy. But besides those choices, the recovery process must also be supported by optimum daily nutrition. A proper diet for cancer patients has an important role in the journey towards recovery.
Some conditions that might exist in cancer patients are as follows:
- Anorexia or loss of appetite
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Teeth and gum problems
- Changes in smelling and tasting
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Constipation (difficulty in passing stool)
Other side effects might interfere in daily intake but can be managed by:
- If the water tastes bad then meeting the liquid intake needs can be through other food and drinks such as soup, watermelon, tea, milk, or juice.
- If the food tastes bland then add more spices such as lemon, ginger, and other herbs.
- If the mouth tastes sore, do avoid hot and sour food.
- Eat in small portions to meet the calorie needs.
- Proteins can be provided from meat, fish, egg, cheese, lentils, or tofu.
- If there are sores or gum infection, use a blender to soften the food texture. Add butter, sauce, gravy, or cream for more calorie.
To achieve the calorie and protein target as the goal for nutrition therapy, we can try several approaches:
- Eat favorite food and drink without adhering to time schedule. Such as eating dinner food for breakfast.
- Eat nutritious snacks throughout the day, aside from the main course, such as biscuit, yoghurt, milk, fruit, cereal, or bread.
- Prioritize high calorie high protein food and can add more components for more nutritional value such as cheese, milk, egg, lentils, butter in the food.
- Drink high calorie high protein such as milkshake or liquid supplements.
Raw or undercooked food can cause food poisoning and should be avoided. Taking notice of correct preparation and food storage can reduce the risk. However, there are some foods to avoid at all cost:
- Ready to eat meat (sausage, salami, etc) – recook till hot
- Un-pasteurized milk, yoghurt, or cheese
- Smoked fish
- Unwashed fruit or vegetables
- Raw or undercooked beef or poultry
- Raw or undercooked scallops
- Sushi and sashimi with raw fish
- Undercooked eggs
It is better to prepare food at home to ensure high quality ingredients and hygienic preparations. If buying food or using a catering service, make sure that it is a trusted and professional service. A proper diet for cancer patients is important because it can boost recovery, provide energy, and support overall treatment.