Food as medicine

What you eat is important when it comes to managing the side effects  from cancer treatment. Eating the right foods can help to improve how you feel and how you recover.
Clinical Dietitian Amy Ekin from St John of God Murdoch Hospital offers her tips for staying well by eating the right way.

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting cancer?

The first thing is to maintain a healthy weight by being physically active and eating a balanced diet. It may lower your overall risk of cancer or its recurrence.

Follow a diet based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. This will help maintain a healthy weight.

Key points include:

• Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods
from the five food groups every day:

• Grain (cereal) foods

• Vegetables and legumes/beans

• Fruit

• Milk, yogurt, cheese and alternatives

• Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds

• Limit foods with saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.

• Care for your food. Prepare and store it safely.

Physical activity improves fitness, increases energy levels and decreases fatigue and stress. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

What do I eat while I’m undergoing treatment?

During cancer treatment, you are advised to maintain a healthy weight or prevent weight loss. It is important to have adequate fluid and a nourishing diet during chemotherapy treatment as it can affect appetite and cause taste changes.

It is preferable to have non-caffeinated fluids like water, milk and juice as excess intake of caffeinated fluids can cause loss of water from body.  Talk to your dietitian to find out details of a nourishing diet during chemotherapy.

How should I be eating after my treatment is finished?

If you still have ongoing side effects from your treatment, this may affect how much you eat or you may continue to lose weight.

If you are not having any problems eating or drinking after your treatment, start thinking about your diet and lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence.

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