Good nutrition is important for cancer patients.

Nutrition is a process in which food is taken in and used by the body for growth, to keep the body healthy, and to replace tissue. Good nutrition is important for good health. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after cancer treatment can help the patient feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water) the body needs.

Healthy eating habits are important during and after cancer treatment.

Nutrition therapy is used to help cancer patients keep healthy body weight, maintain strength, keep body tissue healthy, and decrease side effects both during and after treatment.

Cancer and cancer treatments may cause malnutrition. Cancer and cancer treatments may affect the taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. This can cause malnutrition, which is a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients. Alcohol abuse and obesity may increase the risk of malnutrition.

Eat foods that are high in protein and calories. The following are high-protein food choices:

  • Add extra protein and calories to food, such as using protein-fortified milk.
  • Eat high-protein foods first in your meal when your appetite is strongest.
  • Sip only small amounts of liquids during meals.
  • Drink milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups if you do not feel like eating solid foods.
  • Eat foods that smell good.
  • Try new foods and new recipes.
  • Try blenderized drinks that are high in nutrients (check with your doctor or registered dietitian first).
  • Eat small meals and healthy snacks often throughout the day.
  • Eat larger meals when you feel well and are rested.
  • Eat your largest meal when you feel hungriest, whether at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Make and store small amounts of favorite foods so they are ready to eat when you are hungry.