Following a cancer diagnosis, many people want to make positive changes to their lives. Taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is often a major part of these changes.
For most people, a daily balanced diet includes:
- lots of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of starchy (carbohydrate) foods such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles, couscous and potatoes
- some protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs and pulses (beans and lentils)
- some milk and dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurts and cream
- some healthy fats (e.g. olive oil, vegetable oil, nuts, avocado)
- just a small amount of food high in salt or sugar
- drinks should mainly be water, tea and coffee (without added sugar), or sugar-free drinks such as fizzy drinks, colas and squashes.
Many people with cancer find that there are times when they can’t eat as much as usual, and sometimes they lose weight.
There are lots of reasons for this: it can be related to the cancer itself, or to the side effects of different treatments. Some people find that they don’t feel hungry, or that they feel full soon after starting a meal. Other people find that food makes them feel sick (nausea), or that their treatment makes some foods taste different.
Some types of cancer make your body use up more energy, even if you’re not very active. This can make you lose weight, even though you may still be eating well.
Dietitians are experienced in assessing and advising on the nutritional needs of those affected by illness. They can review your diet and take into account any specialist dietary requirements you may have. They can advise you on which foods are best for you, and also whether any food supplements may be helpful.