Nutritional Services at WMC Cancer Center
The road to recovery from a cancer diagnosis is not an easy one. Various treatment methods like chemotherapy and radiation will take an immense toll on your body, which will have a large impact on how it functions.
Nutrition during cancer treatment
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can meet with you and your family on a variety of nutrition topics including:
- Nutritional analysis of current diet plan.
- Nutrition education during cancer treatment and recovery stages.
- Therapeutic management of common side effects (ex: loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea/vomiting, taste/smell changes, etc.).
- Food safety tips.
Alyssa Conti, MS, RDN, LD is the Clinical Dietitian and Healthy U Lead Wellness Dietitian at WMC Cancer Center. To learn more about our nutritional services for cancer patients, or to schedule an appointment with Alyssa, call (304) 908-4617.
One of the best things that cancer patients can do for themselves before, during, and after treatment is to maintain a healthy diet. These efforts will help to strengthen your body, keep your weight in check, and help you fight off potential infections.
Do Not Ignore General Food Safety
Because cancer patients are often very weak, their immune system has a difficult time fighting off any new bacteria that may lead to an infection. It is important to always practice food safety when preparing meals, as this is what will limit your exposure to foodborne illnesses.
It is best to remember the following rules when handling food:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Sanitize your cooking station
- Handle raw foods such as meat, fish, and poultry with care, keeping them separated from other foods
- Always be sure to thoroughly cook raw foods at a high temperature
Adding Protein to Your Diet
Protein is one of the key components to helping cancer patients achieve a beneficial nutrition plan. These proteins are especially useful if an individual is healing from a recent surgery or wound.
A few foods with high amounts of protein include:
- Full fat yogurt
- Various nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds, or chia seeds
Focus on Calorie Content
Many associate calorie counting with diets that are designed to help them lose weight. However, you are now trying to achieve the opposite. Lots of cancer patients become very frail and weak if they do not have a ingest enough calories. To avoid this, you should be mindful about foods containing plenty of calories, as these will give you the energy you absolutely need during treatment.
It may be hard to break an old habit, but cancer patients should not eat foods labeled as “low-fat” or “fat-free”. You need that extra fat, so openly embrace those heavy creams, gravies, and butter in your daily meals.
Start by changing your milk to whole instead of skim, and look for opportunities to add high-calorie dressings or spreads to everyday foods like a salad or crackers. Protein shakes are another great source of both calories, and obviously, protein. You can even add just a little protein powder to a fruit shake in order to mask the taste in case you aren’t a fan of the powder.
Why Proteins and Calories Matter
A loss of appetite is extremely common for those with cancer, which can make large meals extremely difficult to finish. Do not try to push yourself into eating a large meal. Quantity does not overrule quality here.
Instead, focus on eating smaller meals comprised of foods with real nutritional value. It is also easier than you may think to subtly add protein or calorie-rich foods to just about any dish. Try sprinkling a bit of cheese on top of a meal, or spreading a nut butter over a simple piece of toast. None of these foods have to be incredibly fancy, but they do need to be helping you stay strong while continuing your fight against cancer.
Nutritional Services During Cancer Treatment in Weirton, WV
Alyssa Conti, MS, RDN, LD
Clinical Dietitian and Healthy U Lead Wellness Dietitian
Weirton Medical Center
601 Colliers Way
Weirton, WV 26062