Sunday, April 26, 2015
Stay Strong, Eat Well—To Fight Cancer
Yes, after a cancer diagnosis you might be tempted to say F*** It!—and eat whatever you want. And there is a kind of positive fatalism in that….and there may be a place for that kind of crazy binge.
But mostly, when you have cancer, you need to eat well. You need to eat good food and good tasting food so that you simply will eat—that’s a huge issue for folks going through treatment. Nothing tastes good; your taste buds are fried from chemo or radiation. Or you have lost your sense of smell—another wicked side effect—and you discover that what they say is true—most of taste is actually smell. Or you are so dam tired that you not only don’t want to cook, you don’t even want to eat what other people cook for you.
And don’t get me started (again) on lasagna. I know, your well-meaning friends and co-workers will bring you so much lasagna and variations on lasagna: ravioli, rigatoni, beef goulash. The thought is good—it’s easy to make a casserole and you can (the accompanying note will say this) “easily re-heat this”. But the truth? Most of it hurts. Mouth sores from most chemo hurt like hell and spicy (even mild) red sauce aggravates it.
But you gotta eat. This is where your caregiver point person must be smart, strong and bold and when asked if someone can bring meals or set up one of those caregiver calendars for meals—they have to be very direct: We want chicken, salmon, shrimp and these vegetables—by name. Or gift certificates to great restaurants for delicious take-out. No, you the patient or family caregiver cannot say that. You’ll sound ungrateful and petty and fussy. (No one is really thinking that by the way, but you’ll think they are.) So the friend in charge of food has to be bold and direct.
And here is why you need to care about your food:
69% of cancer patients have health issues or disorders beyond their cancer. *
Even a 5% drop in weight in a month can decrease a person’s tolerance for treatment. *
Eight out of 10 people living with cancer are malnourished* which means that they don’t have the needed fuel for the healing process.
So if your cancer care center has a nutritionist take the offer of an appointment for nutritional therapy. Take every free program. Bring your caregiver and the bold friend who is in charge of your food/meal volunteers.
But go beyond that and also try an integrative health coach who can help you align your diet and nutrition and naturopathic services with your medical and oncology treatment.
*National Cancer Institute 2015