Fighting cancer is a tough task both for the body and the mind of the cancer patient. The treatments lay chemotherapy; surgery and radiation often cause nausea and vomiting making it difficult to eat anything. The body may even have adverse reactions to certain foods.
You should know that there is no universally applicable cancer diet. A generally good rule of thumb is to eat whatever your body can tolerate. Do not adopt any extreme diet to fight cancer. Finally, you should always confirm your dietary guidelines from your doctor and dietitian.
Important things to remember regarding a good diet for cancer patients
Here are some very general guidelines regarding a good diet for cancer patients:
- Fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of phytonutrients which help in boosting your immunity system and fighting cancer. You can eat both fresh as well as frozen fruits, but you should avoid canned fruits. The natural sugar present in fruits is less harmful than refined sugar and its little ill effects are more than balanced by the fiber and micronutrients in the fruits. Patients with mouth ulcers may find it difficult to eat fruits. In that case, you can leave them out. However, fruit juices should be strictly limited.
- You need to maintain your strength during cancer treatment. Risk of weight loss is always great. So, it is prudent to include eggs, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and beans, soy and nuts in your regular diet. These are easy to digest and great sources of protein.
- Brown rice is one of the best carbs that you can eat during cancer. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. Avoid any grain containing gluten during this time.
- Nausea is a major and recurring problem during cancer. The traditional remedies for cancer induced nausea include ginger and starchy foods like dry toast. If you find it difficult to eat large meals due to nausea, you should eat small snacks throughout the day.
- Nuts and seeds add useful fatty acids to your diet. Little amount should be included in the daily diet of cancer patients.
- Fish and shellfish supply high quality of protein but they are not allowed in some diets. You should check this with your doctor.
- It is vital for the cancer patients to stay hydrated – especially during the period of chemotherapy. Drink lemon water frequently. It flushes your system and gets rid of excess acidity. Coconut milk works as a great substitute for dairy products. You should drink at least eight to ten glasses of fluids every day.
What foods to avoid?
A good diet for cancer patient should avoid the following foods:
- Beverages like soft drinks, alcohol and coffee should be strictly avoided while herbal teas may be consumed only with the permission of the doctor.
- Meat should be eliminated completely and you should not eat eggs more than occasionally. Consult your doctor about including fish or poultry.
- Dairy products are almost always completely eliminated from a cancer diet.
- Fried foods, starchy foods and sugar should be highly restricted in a cancer diet.