A cancer diagnosis can change so much of life’s normal routine. Simple errands like a trip to the grocery store might feel daunting on treatment days. Helping with tasks like grocery shopping is a great way to show your support for someone going through cancer treatment. But what foods are best to eat during treatment? While every survivor’s dietary needs are different, here’s a list of the top 5 foods to keep in mind when shopping for someone in cancer treatment.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Depending upon the cancer type and treatment, fruits and vegetables are a great option. If someone is having difficulty chewing or swallowing, these foods may be softened or blended in a smoothie. Fruits and vegetables make great snacks for someone trying to add extra calories to diet, especially when combined with cheese, peanut butter, or a dip. They are also a good source of fiber which may help if someone is taking medicines that cause constipation. Fresh fruits and vegetables are preferred but frozen is also a quick and cost effective option.
- Greek Yogurt (low fat): Greek yogurt is typically lower in calories and sugar compared to regular low fat yogurt and higher in protein. The consistency of Greek yogurt makes it easy to eat which is good for a survivor who is having trouble chewing or swallowing food. It also adds extra calories and protein for those experiencing malnutrition. Greek yogurt can be eaten on its own, added to a smoothie, mixed for a fruit or veggie dip, or used as a substitution for regular yogurt or sour cream in any recipe.
- Lean Meat: It is very important to have adequate protein intake while receiving cancer treatment. Meat is one way to add protein to the diet. It is recommended that the majority of meat come from lean sources such as chicken, turkey, or fish. Try to bake, broil, or grill the meat. If cancer treatment has made meat unenjoyable, it may be best to find non-meat sources of protein such as eggs, nuts, beans and low fat dairy products.
- Whole Grains: Two common side effects of cancer treatment and medications are constipation and diarrhea. Increasing fiber intake with foods such as bran cereals, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread, and oatmeal may help with these side effects. When adding fiber to a diet, it is very important to drink plenty of water.
- Ginger: Nausea can be a common side effect of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and certain medications. Ginger can help soothe this side effect. Fresh ginger can be eaten raw or added to food when cooking. Ground ginger can also be added to food dishes, tea, and in baked items.
These foods are not appropriate for everyone. However, they may help with some of the common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. If you have specific questions regarding the best foods to eat during cancer treatment, please contact PearlPoint Cancer Support to speak to a registered dietitian.