Eating Well During Chemotherapy

A diagnoses of cancer is understandably a scary, uncertain time in a person's life. Treatment usually quickly follows, and the lightning speed at which things happen can be overwhelming. If your treatment will include chemotherapy or radiation, chances are nausea and vomiting will affect you at some point. An oncology team, like one at Sturdy Memorial Hospital, may have you meet with a dietitian to help you address your nutritional needs during this process. Eating properly and maintaining your strength is imperative while undergoing treatment. Here are four tips to help you handle the nausea and still get the nutrients your body desperately needs to heal.

Eat Small Meals Frequently

An empty stomach can make nausea worse. It can also cause the dry heaves. The dry heaves is reflexive, non-productive vomiting, which can be hard on your body, especially if you have also recently had surgery. Most likely, you won't have the appetite you used to have, so don't force yourself to eat the same portion size as before. Try to keep something in your stomach at all times, even if it is just a few crackers.

Stay Upright After Eating

Lying down immediately after eating can cause the food and digestive juices in your stomach to back up. This can also trigger heartburn and indigestion. Stay propped up for at least an hour after eating.

Eat Healthy Foods

Animal proteins are harder to digest than most plant-based foods. While you still need to get adequate protein each day, most Americans eat more protein than they need. The average human body requires 51 grams of protein daily for optimum health. A 3-ounce piece of meat averages 21 grams of protein. Salmon, which is also rich in omega-3s, and other fish are easier to digest than beef, pork, or chicken. Protein can also be derived from nuts and nut spreads, like peanut butter, tofu, and eggs. While cheese, dairy, and beans are also high in protein, they can be harder for the body to digest.

Yogurt, a dairy product, is an exception. The probiotics in yogurt actually aid in digestion and can have a calming effect on the digestion system. Sauerkraut is another excellent choice. The fermented cabbage is rich in lactic acid bacteria, which helps to balance the flora and fauna in the digestive tract. It adds the good kind of bacteria necessary for a healthy gut. Place more emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains like brown rice rather than meat.

Choose Foods And Beverages That Help Reduce Nausea

  • Drink ginger ale and ginger tea. Eat ginger candy and ginger snap cookies. Grate fresh ginger in stir-fried vegetables.
  • Chicken broth is comforting, nutritious, and calming.
  • Sports drinks replace the electrolytes that are lost from vomiting.
  • Bananas replenish lost potassium and are easy to digest