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National Nutrition Month : What My Patients Taught Me

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES March 15, 2017Pearls of Wisdom Blog

March is National Nutrition Month , and for 2017 the theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” We’ve posted a prior blog this month about NNM which touched on the major nutrition points from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Now I wanted to share a blog with some great nutrition suggestions from my patients and their families. Folks have shared some good eating ideas that work best for them and their side effects. This is what my patients taught me:

Go Small one family used small Dixie Cups for mini-servings of milkshakes. The shakes were prepared twice a week, and then cups were filled and placed in the freezer for snacks or desserts. These were just the right size (3 to 4 ounces) for small appetites.

Mix Flavors a new patient that I just met cooks a vegetable that she really likes with a vegetable that she hopes to like better. She finds that the tasty vegetable seems to add a pleasurable taste to the second vegetable. For example, cook green leafy vegetable with brown beans.

Be Cool a patient with oral mucositis found that eating something cool in temperature before and during her chemotherapy infusion helped greatly reduce the side effect of mouth soreness. She took to her chemo appointments a lunch cooler with popsicles, pudding, and Jell-O in her favorite flavors.

Get the Facts a cancer survivor working in a busy office wanted to lose weight after completing her treatments. She tried giving up bread and fried foods at lunch, but she wasn’t pleased with her progress. After reading the nutrition facts labels on restaurant menus, she was able to make lower-calorie healthy food choices with lots of flavor and still lose weight.

Phone a Friend knowing that he would be away from home for months in an apartment close to the cancer center after his bone marrow transplant (BMT), the patient’s wife called her friends and organized a cooking and freezing meal party. Wholesome meals were prepared, frozen, and labeled. Now he has meals for his recovery time!

Calling All Cooks the daughters of a patient with difficulty swallowing came to visit their father. Determined to help, they went grocery shopping and then made his favorite soups and creamy foods. They made a list of everything cooked, the side dish ideas, and where their delicious foods were stored (pantry, freezer, refrigerator). His daughters come back and cook when the foods need replenishing or his nutrition needs change.

Eat Smart when your appetite is stronger, eat more. That is what a gentleman shared with me that helped him regain some weight. He loves breakfast so that’s when his bigger meal is eaten. If you like a food, enhance the calories. His wife slips calorie-rich foods into his favorite dishes like cheese in potatoes, heavy cream in coffee, extra butter on rice, and shredded meat in scrambled eggs.

For more ideas to help you cope with side effects, check out Help With Managing Cancer Side Effects.

For more ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, visit

Looking for some fun recipes to help put your best fork forward? Check out the following recipes and the American Institute for Cancer Research:

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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