What can you do?
During your cancer journey and its treatment, nutrition has an important part to play. Eating the right kinds of foods during and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger. How you nourish your body during this time is something that you can do to look after yourself, with the aim of recovering well so you can continue to live your best life.
Speak to your healthcare professional about your treatment plan and be proactive in asking about the likely side effects and the best way to manage these. This may include contacting a dietitian who can assist with ensuring your body gets its essential nutrients in a way that works for you if side effects start to happen.
Some cancer treatments – like surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy – can impact your appetite and simply reduce your desire to eat and drink. Up to 80% of people receiving cancer treatment report changes in the flavour of food, affecting the way they enjoy food, and potentially leading to a less nutritious diet.1
Proactively ensuring you have an eating plan from a qualified dietitian that can keep your body fuelled with essential nutrients is important during cancer treatment. The body needs energy to support you through your cancer treatment, and an important way to ensure you’re ready is by eating and drinking enough of the nutrition you need throughout your treatment.
After cancer treatment, your aim is to recover well. Cancer can be a life-changing time for many people and so post-treatment may be a time when you consider good nutrition and regular physical exercise. This will help the body cope with the healing process by boosting the immune system and keep energy levels up.
An oral nutrition supplement may be required for some time post cancer treatment due to longer term side effects that can impact your ability to eat and drink adequately. Your healthcare professional may recommend that you continue with an oral nutritional supplement like Fortisip Compact Protein to support you as part of your recovery.
Obesity is a risk factor for a number of different cancers and a healthy body weight is important for reducing the risk of cancer recurrence and improving survival.2 This should only be a focus once you’re through the more immediate post-treatment phase, where you may still find it challenging to eat and drink adequately. Dietitians can help you with nutritional concerns, any ongoing problems with food and eating, or supervised weight loss.
- Cancer Council NSW: https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-prevention/healthy-eating-after-cancer/weight-loss-tips-for-cancer-survivors/ Accessed July 2020.
- Cancer Council NSW: https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-information/managing-cancer-side-effects/taste-and-smell-changes/ Accessed July 2020.