Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

3 Diet Tips for Radiation Patients

by Hugh Larson

Radiation therapy is an important tool when it comes to fighting cancer, and it may be the thing that puts your cancer into remission. But it also has some serious side effects, including dehydration and weight loss. That's why making sure that you're getting a nutritious diet is extremely important during radiation treatment. You need your body to be as strong as possible while you battle cancer, and maintaining a healthy diet will help keep your body strong. Take a look at some important diet tips for patients undergoing radiation treatment.

Stock Up on Proteins and Healthy Carbs

Protein is an important part of everyone's diet, but it's particularly important for patients undergoing cancer treatment, like radiation therapy. Protein is a necessary nutrient for healing cells. Radiation destroys cancer cells, but it can also destroy healthy cells at the same time. Protein can help rebuild those cells.

Usually, you can find your body's protein requirements by dividing your weight (in pounds) by two. The result is the number of grams of protein that you need each day. However, while you're undergoing radiation, you may need to increase that amount. In addition to eating high-protein dishes like meat, poultry, or fish, you can include snacks like cheese and crackers, trail mix, or yogurt into your diet for some extra protein. Or you can add shredded cheese, leftover meat, or beans to soups, eggs, seeds or nuts to salads, and milk to soups and cereals to sneak a little extra protein into your meals.

You also want to make sure that you're getting enough healthy carbohydrates. Carbs give you energy, and since cancer treatment will definitely drain your energy levels, you need carbs to help build them back up. However, you should avoid too many high-sugar carbs, like white bread, baked goods, and pasta. These can lead to a blood sugar spike and then a crash, which will leave you feeling even more exhausted. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are carb-filled foods that will give you a steady stream of energy to help you get through the day.

Create an Anti-Nausea Menu

Radiation can leave you feeling nauseous and can even lead to excessive vomiting. However, the right foods can reduce the vomiting and feelings of nausea. Crackers and pretzels, toast, oatmeal, yogurt, and soft fruits can all help settle an upset stomach. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, eating more often can help reduce your chances of feeling nauseous—having a little something in your stomach can help ward off stomach upset. Don't overeat, but consider breaking down larger meals into several small meals, so that your stomach is never completely empty.  

If you can't handle solid food, stock up on broth and bouillon, gelatin, tea, apple juice, and clear soda. The fluids will prevent dehydration, which can be a major concern when you can't keep food down, and they can also help to settle your stomach. Make sure that you also drink plenty of water—add a little splash of fruit juice or a twist of lemon or lime if you don't like the taste of plain water.

Don't Be Afraid to Break the Rules

Eating healthy food is important, but so is eating anything at all. Don't try to stick to a diet so rigidly that you can't go off of it when nothing on it appeals to you. There will be times when you really don't want breakfast food in the morning, or you want nothing but breakfast food all day long, or when you're up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep until you eat something. There may be times when the only thing that you want to eat is a pizza, or a bowl of ice cream—and that's okay.

When it comes to healthy foods, don't worry about the time of day or what you would normally be eating for that meal. Any time is a good time to eat something healthy that you're craving, even if that means chicken soup for breakfast or eggs at 2am. And don't be afraid to treat yourself with something that's less than healthy if that's what you're craving. Within reason, it's fine to have a treat if that's what makes you feel better at the time.

Combining good nutrition with your radiation therapy can only help you back on the road to good health. Talk to your doctor and radiation specialist about how your diet interacts with your cancer treatment.


About Me

Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

I have worked in a supportive role in the medical industry for over 20 years, and I have been amazed at the advances in medicine that have been made. While it is always great to hear about a new medication that helps cure a disease or a new surgical procedure that can help someone live a normal life again after an injury, I have been especially amazed at the research that has shown just how much our physical and mental health are connected. Since I keep on top of all of the amazing medical studies being performed and I know others are too busy to hunt them down themselves, I decided to start a blog to share my favorite health tips for keeping both your mind and body healthy.