The guiding mission of The Breast Cancer Society, Inc. (TBCS) is to provide relief to those who suffer from the effects of breast cancer now, as well as to work cooperatively with and give support to other personnel, individuals and organizations that share in the goal of helping cancer patients, the critically ill, and the impoverished. This is done through education, direct assistance, financial aid, and by providing supplies, care-giving products and referral services. Additionally, TBCS assists in the eradication of breast cancer through education and the support of breast cancer research.
The Breast Cancer Society, Inc. has an exceptional blog called "Stay Abreast," with posts about nutrition, physical activity, emotional healing, and more. The following is a sample post about nutrition. To read more posts, check out the Stay Abreast Blog.
Nutritional Counseling: Food Strategies During Treatment
Jul 24, 2014 | Posted by BCS
In an era of continually conflicting dietary advice, it may be disappointing to learn that even when it comes to breast cancer diets “one size does not fit all.” Your lifestyle, other health issues, the type of treatment you undergo, and even the type of breast cancer you have may result in varied dietary recommendations.
The good news, however, according to Greta Macaire, an oncology dietitian at the University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, is that several general food strategies do
apply no matter what type of breast cancer or treatment options you’re undergoing.
General Diet Tips During Chemotherapy and Radiation
Diet Tips for Fighting Treatment Side Effects
- Eat at regular intervals – Eating smaller portions every three to four hours places less stress on the digestive system. Having a small amount of food in your stomach can also curb nausea. “It’s also easier to get more nutrition if you’re eating small portions throughout the day,” stresses Macaire. “But make sure it is healthy food.” Eating regularly, she says, can also help reduce the risk of weight gain, a common occurrence during treatment. “Eating small meals will prevent you from getting overly hungry, which can lead to overeating and making the wrong food choices.”
- Eat a variety of foods – Meals for a cancer treatment diet should be based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and small quantities of quality protein (chicken, fish, turkey, beans, nuts and seeds). “Protein is a building block nutrient that provides better energy for women and can fight off fatigue,” says Macaire. “Include a little bit of protein with each snack or meal. For example, pair an apple with nut butter or nuts; or in the morning, instead of having cereal alone, have an egg or some plain Greek yogurt also.”
- Stay well hydrated – Drinking enough fluid is important to help reduce the side effects of both radiation and chemotherapy. “Sometimes women have a difficult time drinking enough because of the taste changes associated with chemotherapy. Sometimes water tastes ‘off’ to them,” says Macaire. She recommends sipping on water throughout the day, but also says various herbal teas and ginger teas (which can curb nausea) are acceptable. Sparkling water or diluted juices (a splash of juice with a glass of water) are also recommended.
Radiation and chemotherapy may cause a host of unwanted effects ranging from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to constipation, appetite loss, mouth sores, chewing/swallowing difficulties, and even taste and smell changes.
To keep those symptoms at bay, Macaire and colleagues at UCSF Medical Center compiled a comprehensive list of suggested foods and helpful tips
. For each of your symptoms, you’ll learn which foods to avoid during cancer treatment, the recommended frequency for meals and beverages, and tips for staying nourished, as well as finding ways to continue enjoying food.
Overall, Macaire says that individualized dietary counseling sessions really are the optimal solution for breast cancer patients. She recommends that you talk to your health care team and ask for a referral to a dietitian. Cancer Centers usually have a dietitian on staff. Oncology dietitians are preferred, she says, due to their specific training and understanding of cancer. You can search for oncology dietitians near your home on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website
– just click on the large “Find an Oncology Registered Dietitian” button in the middle of the page.
Greta Recommends: Cookbooks, Recipes, Meal Plans
- The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz and Matt Edleson – This cookbook suggests recipes to address specific cancer treatment side effects and also offers insight on ways to tweak the flavor profiles of recipes if you are experiencing taste changes.
- The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook by Jean LaMantia – This cookbook includes sample menus, shopping lists, and insight about the waxing and waning appetite during various stages of cancer treatment.
- Nutrition and Breast Cancer – This PDF document was prepared by UCSF Medical Center. Page 31 includes a comprehensive summary of the components for a healthy breast cancer diet, and page 36 includes a three-day sample meal plan, followed by recipe suggestions. “This meal plan offers a good base menu and provides some ideas of how you can possibly eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day,” says Macaire.
- American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) – Access a number of recipes online from the AICR Test Kitchen, all rigorously tested and approved by AICR recipe developers, dietitians and staff.
Visit the Breast Cancer Society website to learn more about breast cancer, to discover how the BCS helps people suffering from breast cancer, and to donate to this worthy cause!
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