Good nutrition is especially important during cancer treatment because people who are nutritionally depleted don’t tolerate treatment well, says Kris Ghosh, a gynecologic oncologist and co-author (with Linda Carson and Elyse Cohen) of Betty Crocker’s Living With Cancer Cookbook: Pink Together Edition.
Cookbooks such as Living With Cancer and the American Cancer Society’s What to Eat During Cancer Treatment: 100 Great-Tasting, Family-Friendly Recipes to Help You Cope aim to help patients and caregivers with symptom management. Both categorize recipes by common symptoms: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, mouth soreness and difficulty swallowing, altered sense of taste, unintentional weight loss.
Do’s and don’ts of cooking for cancer patients:
– Prepare nutritious foods; go light on the spices.
– Encourage cancer patients to eat healthy to keep their strength and immune system up; going for a short walk can help build up an appetite.
–Prepare six smaller meals (rather than three larger ones) to eat during the day.
– Pay special attention to food safety; wash your hands and use separate cutting boards for vegetables and raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.
– Assume salad is the best option. A big salad is very difficult for someone going through radiation or chemo to digest.
– Push them to eat, and don’t be offended if they don’t enjoy something they once did.
– Overload their plate so they feel bad if they can’t finish.
– Overwhelm them with large events featuring lots of food, or cook in unventilated areas.
Marilyn Hartness shares some recipes and hints she found helpful during her battle with cancer in the back of her book Brave the Day. She highly recommends Cancer: Fight It With the Blood Type Diet written by Peter J. D’Adamo. Cancer Treatment Centers of America focus on nutritional support during and after cancer treatment. More advice can be found at Eating Hints by the National Cancer Institute
Other resources that focus on reducing risk and preventing cancer through diet and other healthy living and lifestyle tips include: