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National Nutrition Month® 2019: How a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can Help You during Cancer Treatment

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES March 3, 2019Pearls of Wisdom Blog

March is National Nutrition Month®, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This annual celebration focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Nutrition and lifestyle also plays a key role for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. After a cancer diagnosis, making food choices that improve your wellbeing can be a challenge. Due to side effects of cancer and treatments, your appetite and zeal for eating may decrease. Additionally, many people with cancer have other health conditions to manage like blood pressure, glucose levels and digestion issues that can make eating well more difficult.

How a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Can Help

Ask your healthcare team for a referral to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who is experienced in working with people who have your type of cancer. An RDN can:

  1. Discuss the benefits of healthy food and lifestyle choices
  2. Teach you to choose a variety of foods from all the food groups each week
  3. Suggest strategies to improve nutrition and manage side effects
  4. Answer questions you may have about cancer and nutrition
  5. Share tips for meal planning and grocery shopping
  6. Help you make food safety part of your everyday routine
  7. Give you healthy portion sizes for your nutritional needs
  8. Identify the pros and cons of popular diets in cancer care
  9. Share trustworthy nutrition resources both online and in your area
  10. Develop strategies for caregiver who are caring for a loved one during cancer treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan for people with cancer. Therefore, the RDN will personalize the process to your needs:

  • First, the RDN will ask you for an overview of your health and cancer type. The RDN will assess your habits around meals, eating, and physical activity. Food allergies, dietary restrictions, budget, and cultural food practices will be included.
  • Next, you and the RDN will identify your personal nutrition goals based on your health needs. You will work together to develop nutrition strategies that fit with your life.

Nutrition that works for you may be very different from the information you hear in the media, advertisements, or from friends or family. Registered dietitian nutritionists provide sound, easy-to-follow, personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences, and health needs.


For National Nutrition Month®, check out these recipes and resources from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

You can view the key messages for National Nutrition Month® here.

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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