Monday, November 12, 2012

Healthy Weight & Cancer Treatment (guest post)

 As I sit in the hospital with my newborn son who developed a fever at 5 weeks old, I am disappointed with hospital food. It lacks flavor, nutrients and much needed fat in my opinion! I am only a nursing mother trying to help my baby recuperate, but there are many children and adults in this hospital that are eating off the same menu that I have been given. Leafy greens - none, just iceberg lettuce. Fresh fruit, some, but more canned/processed fruit than fresh. Vegetables - the usual and mostly starchy. Probiotics/cultured food - yogurt (99% fat free). International fare = pasta, stir fry, and Mexican options.Along my Real Food journey I have come to believe that your health has a lot to do with what you eat.  Here to tell us more about how important what you eat during cancer treatment is Jillian McKee. Now, how do we get hospitals to change their menus to coincide with what patients need? Maybe some hospitals are better than others. If you have a good report to make on a hospital menu, please share in the comments below.  
Jillian McKeeBringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight During Cancer Treatment

Dealing with cancer can be a scary experience. Most forms of cancer have painful side effects and many cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can be just as uncomfortable as the disease itself. Cancers such as mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the body’s vital organs and is caused by asbestos exposure, can be especially agonizing. Mesothelioma side effects include shortness of breath, pain during breathing, and a persistent wheezing cough. Most cancers can be treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. A common side effect for most types of cancers and their treatments is weight loss. Because of this, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and pay attention to proper nutrition so that your body stays strong.

Because both cancer and its treatments weaken the body, making sure you get the necessary vitamins and minerals is an important part of the healing process. Because the body is under attack by both the cancer itself and the treatment, cancer patients usually need more protein than the average person to maintain their energy. Therefore, when undergoing cancer treatments, it’s important to eat foods that are high in protein such as eggs, dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt, and beans. Peanut butter is also a good source of protein and is easy on the stomach for patients who experience nausea during treatments.

Most cancer patients experience weight loss due to nausea and loss of appetite often caused by chemotherapy. Increasing calorie intake may not sound healthy, but if you have cancer, you need all of the calories you can get.  One way to eat more to avoid weight loss is to use extra spices in your food. Many cancer patients undergoing treatment complain that food tastes bland, which causes them to not want to eat as much. By adding flavor to food with strong spices like oregano, curry, and cinnamon, your meals will taste stronger and better and this will help you consume the foods needed to stay strong. Some dieticians even recommend eating high fat foods during chemotherapy to maintain caloric intake. So, while it should be done in moderation, don’t be afraid to indulge in ice cream, pizza, or a cheeseburger.

Sometimes, even if you use spices in your food and eat high-calorie meals, you still may not be getting the nutrients you need due to constant nausea. If this is the case, try eating foods that are easy on the stomach and reduce nausea naturally such as ginger, rice, and potatoes. If eating a large meal makes your nausea worse, try snacking on several small meals throughout the day. Carry snacks with you so that if your stomach begins to feel better, you can munch on some much-needed calories while you can.

For more information on this subject or similar topics, check out Jillian's blog at:

 Here are some of my favorite recipes that are high in protein, nutrients and flavor...

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