- Eat A Big Breakfast 🍳
I’ve found that my hunger is usually higher in the mornings, and I see a decline in my hunger as the day goes on. Also, treatments are generally easier for me to tolerate when I have eaten. Since common treatments like chemo and radiation can cause nausea, eating in the mornings will ensure that your body has had time to absorbs nutrients. You might not be feeling too great after treatments and may avoid food afterward, so consuming food first thing in the morning is certainly helpful.
- Snack! 🍌
Normally snacking is not advocated, but for us patients, we need all the calories we can get. Just be sure that you’re snacking on healthy, protein-rich foods such as yogurt, fruits, and nuts.
- Keep Track of Your Weight ⚖️
Usually your medical team will help to monitor weight, but I found it helpful to also track my weight at home during treatments, especially chemo which is known to cause sudden weight gain and loss. Keeping track of your weight for yourself is helpful because you can adjust your food intake and your exercises and also raise concerns to your medical team.
- Move Around, Even When You Don’t Feel Like It 🚶🏽♀️🚶🏿♂️
Exercise is known to boost energy and appetite, both of which are essential during rigorous cancer treatments. Be wise in your exercises and get to know your body. Know what your limits are, so that you don’t over-exert yourself. Sometimes a walk around the neighborhood is all your body needs.
- Color Your Plate 🌈
I can’t believe that I am actually suggesting this, as anyone who knows me is aware that I have a hate-hate relationship with most veggies, but I’ve learned that a well-balanced plate of food is often colorful. Foods that are “nutrient-dense” are generally rich in color.
- Spice It Up! 🌶
Chemo and other treatments have a big impact on our taste buds. I’ve heard that typically the changes you experience in taste subside when you finish treatment, but I’ve been in-and-out of treatments, so I cannot personally attest to this being true. A lot of foods that I eat lack taste, not because they actually do, but because of the changes my poor taste buds have gone through. Many times, adding salt or different spices can help to improve the taste of many foods. For example, I never ate ketchup unless it was on a hot dog, but these days, I find myself eating it with my potatoes and on burgers. (It’s salvaged so many of my meals that I bought 3 ginormous bottles from Sam’s Club, and eventually gifted Brittany with one of the bottles upon the realization of how much ketchup I’d purchased.)
- Embrace Liquid Nutrition 🥤
A lot of the time, solid foods might be difficult to digest. Other times, you might be too nauseous to even consider food, and the mere thought of food makes you gag. It was in these moments that my medical team suggested that I try drinking smoothies or broths. I’m not a huge fan of broths (unless it’s Britt’s famous Beef Broth), but I love me some smoothies. There were many days when I wasn’t able to eat anything solid, but I could knock back a smoothie or two throughout the day. Smoothies are pretty awesome because you can incorporate all sorts of ingredients, and for some reason, it’s easier to stomach liquified versions of food (that sounds gross, but it’s not — I promise).
Hopefully these simple tips will help to relieve some headaches and tummy aches during your treatments.
Keep fighting, friends!