From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

August 15, 2023

We’ve already established a well-balanced diet full of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is essential to your body while you experience radiation therapy.   If you’re needing some examples of those types of foods, visit our last blog, “Eating Healthy During Radiation Treatment – The WHAT”.  Now we’re going to address the HOW.  How do you get in your nutrients when you’re feeling low, fatigued, nauseous, or experiencing GI side effects?

Preparing meals and nutritious snacks ahead of treatment can lead to better eating habits when you’re feeling not-so-good.  Having healthier snacks easy to grab, like hard-boiled eggs or a trail mix, will help you choose better foods when you don’t have the energy to make meals.

After you stock your pantry and fridge with healthy proteins, fats, and carbs, let’s go over some tips for prepping your meals and snacks to allow you a better chance of sticking to a healthy diet and staying strong to fight cancer.

General Radiation Therapy Tips

Regardless of the area of your body being treated, eating during radiation treatment may not always be easy.  It’s important to keep trying and these suggestions could make a big difference in being able to get necessary nutrients into your body.

  • Smaller Meals – instead of large breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals, we recommend eating every few hours but reducing the amount of food at each sitting. It’s easier to eat a hardboiled egg, yogurt, and cheese than a large plate of pancakes and bacon when your stomach is upset.
  • Protein Snacks – Choose protein-dense snacks, such as cheese sticks, yogurt cups, or hardboiled eggs throughout the day. These small snacks will pack a big punch of energy when you’re feeling tired.
  • Fruits & Veggies – Try to keep fruits and veggies in your snacks or meals throughout the day. A cup of berries with plain yogurt or celery sticks & peanut butter can be a great snack.
  • Pack Snacks – You know how squirrels hide food everywhere? Take a page out of their book and keep travel snacks in your car or bag at all times.
  • Boost Your Protein – Get those extra grams of protein by boosting your smoothies with protein powder. Adding cooked eggs or cheese to meals is also a great way to boost your protein without adding an additional amount of food to eat.
  • Add The Fat – Add healthy fats to dishes, for example, nut butter to hot cereal; avocado slices with soups or sandwiches; or add olive oil to vegetables and salads.
  • Invite Friends – Dine with family or friends to make mealtimes more enjoyable.
  • Nutritional Supplements – If you’re really struggling to eat the amount of calories needed, try adding a nutritional supplement to your prep. Our APPs recommend Carnation Instant Breakfast but Boost or Ensure work just as well.  Be sure to choose the high protein versions of these shakes.
  • Ask For Recipes – Our APPs have some great recipes and other ideas they will gladly share with you if you’re having trouble maintaining your nutritional intake.
  • Up Your Fluids – When eating a high-protein diet, it’s very important to get plenty of fluids to flush your kidneys. Not doing so can lead to dehydration.

OHC APP and nutritionist, Laura Weldisofer says “The better you can do with nutrition before, during, and even immediately after treatment, the less you’ll experience side effects because you’re giving your body the tools it needs to heal and recover.”  Getting the right nutrition also impacts your likelihood to get through treatment without stopping and have a better outcome afterward.  If you get stuck with not getting enough calories, contact your OHC providers.  They are here for you, to help you in any way they can, as you focus on what matters most, beating cancer.

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