Nutrition Care During Breast Cancer
Special nutritional requirements during and after recovery are keeping total calorie intake to a controlled level. Many people increase their calorie intake in the belief that eating in abundance will help in recovery. This however has been proven to have adverse reactions in the prognosis. Moreover due to muscle depletion, increase in protein intake is essential. Cancer not only affects the body physically but also has strong implications on a mental and emotional level. Low motivation, acceptance, and an overall depletion towards one’s self-esteem are common traits. It is imperative to first recognise and accept these emotional feelings and mental constraints, after which then refocusing on the goal of getting fitter and stronger. Many traditional beliefs are now disproving to be effective, and modern science is recognising the absolute importance of an integrated approach to healing for treatment and cure. Further, cancer survivors have reached greater levels of physical and mental strength than before their cancer diagnosis.
What's Best to Eat?
Chemotherapy and radiation side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite and/or taste are the key reasons for weight loss among cancer survivors; sometimes, the therapy itself impairs the absorption of nutrients.
In contrast, in some cases, weight gain could be a result of reduced activity, or emotional and stress-related eating. Therefore, it is imperative to consult with a dietician in order to help develop a customised diet for you. Ask your doctor for a referral.
Whether you want to gain, lose, or maintain weight, experts recommend that cancer survivors follow these guidelines for a healthy diet:
- Eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. A serving can be a cup of dark leafy greens or berries, a medium fruit, or a half cup of other colourful choices; use plant-based seasonings like parsley and turmeric;
- Go for whole grains. Opt for high-fiber breads and cereals, including brown rice, barley, bulgur, and oats; avoid refined foods, such as donuts and white bread, and those high in sugar;
- Choose lean protein. Stick to fish, poultry, and tofu, limiting red meat and processed meats;
- Keep dairy low fat. Select skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced-fat cheeses.
Other tips to maximize nutrition:
- Aim for a variety of foods. Create a balanced plate that is one-half cooked or raw vegetables, one-fourth lean protein (chicken, fish, lean meat, or dairy) and one-fourth whole grains;
- Eat fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and canned tuna at least twice a week. The fats in these fish are the "good" heart-healthy omega-3 fats; other sources of these fats include walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseeds;
- Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been linked to cancer risk. Men should have no more than two drinks a day; women should have no more than one drink;
- Eat foods high in vitamin D. These include salmon, sardines, fortified orange juice, milk, and fortified cereal. Research suggests that vitamin D, which also comes from sun exposure, prevents cancer and may decrease the risk of recurrence and improve survival. People in regions with limited sunshine may be deficient and thus benefit from a vitamin D3 supplement (ask your physician about a blood test to measure deficiency);
- Food – not supplements – are the best source of vitamins and minerals. There is no evidence that dietary supplements provide the same anti-cancer benefits as fruits and vegetables, and some high-dose supplements may actually increase cancer risk.