8 Healthy Foods for People With Cancer
- What to Eat to Feel BetterIf you're going through cancer treatment or in recovery, you may have side effects like fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, changed sense of taste, weight loss or weight gain. What you eat can help remedy these. Of course, not every cancer patient has the same nutrition needs; if in doubt, talk to your doctor. But keep these eight foods in mind when planning your meals: They can provide much-needed energy and comfort when you need it most.
- Melon BallsTry fresh or frozen cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon to soothe the sore mouth that sometimes can occur with treatment. Other choices: frozen grapes or bananas, berries, pineapple, or pears. Fruit in general--fresh, canned in juice or frozen--is nutritious, easy to prepare and goes down easy. Plus it's high in water content to fight dehydration. Be sure to wash fresh fruit carefully: It's especially important to avoid food-borne illness during treatment.
- Hot CerealRefined hot cereals like Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice, farina, instant oatmeal and grits are soft, bland, easy to digest and a good source of fiber and calories. They help combat weight loss, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting. (Rice-based cereal is particularly good if you are having digestive problems.) They're also convenient and super-easy to make: a big consideration when you're fighting fatigue. Tip: These are a good option to have on hand for treatment days.
- EggsA protein-rich diet is a good way to boost your energy levels. Eggs are a compact and versatile source of protein. Keep hard-boiled eggs on hand to cut up and serve in salads, casseroles, soups or to use in egg salad. Or make scrambled eggs and omelets. Low-fat alternatives like commercial egg substitutes are OK, too, especially if you're concerned about weight gain. Just make sure to cook thoroughly—raw eggs are unsafe.
- Rotisserie ChickenChicken is another good source of lean protein. Rotisserie chicken from your grocery store is not only extra tender but is convenient--no cooking required, which is key when you're feeling fatigued. Plus, it's soft, easy to eat, and can be used in many ways: in soups, stews, sandwiches, on top of salads, or in chicken salad. A convenient alternative is to use your slow cooker; let chicken (or other lean meats) cook all day while you're at work or in treatment.
- PopsiclesPopsicles can soothe the sore throat, mouth and tongue that can be caused by cancer treatment. They help with dry mouth and also can help keep you hydrated--a big requirement during treatment, especially if you're nauseated or vomiting and need to be on a clear liquid diet. Look for popsicles without fruit bits, pulp, seeds or milk for best digestion. Other choices: frozen flavored fruit ice, Italian ice or shaved ice.
- Peanut ButterPeanut butter is a convenient source of protein that can be used in many ways besides the peanut butter sandwich (though that's good, too). You can use it as a dip or spread for fruits and veggies, blend it into shakes and smoothies, top whole-grain waffles with it, and mix it into stir-fry sauces. Look for 100 percent peanut butter made without added oils. Tip: Avoid peanut butter on days when you are having dry mouth.
- Trail MixThis is a quick, easy snack full of fiber, protein and grains--perfect to have on hand to fight weight loss and give you a boost when you're fatigued. You can make up your own trail mix or buy premade in stores. Toss together dry cereals or granola, dry fruits such as raisins and cranberries, and nuts. Optional: chocolate or carob chips, flax seeds, M&Ms. You can also keep dried fruits on hand to eat on their own.
- SmoothiesBlend fresh or frozen fruit with yogurt to create a drink that is soothing on the mouth, helps prevent weight loss, provides nutrients and keeps you hydrated. Plus, yogurt promotes healthy digestion. Make extra smoothies or shakes to keep in the fridge to make meal prep easier. Or, if you don't have energy to make your own, smoothies can be found premade in grocery stores, coffee shops and other outlets.
8 Healthy Foods for People With Cancer