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Conquer your nutrition hurdles

Provided by HealthMonitor

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells'a great thing. What's not so great? It can kill your appetite too. And nausea isn't the only culprit. Chemo can cause mouth sores that make it downright painful to eat, and some drugs can make you lose your taste for food. Yet eating is important during treatment. Nutritious foods help boost your immune system and keep you strong. So think of a balanced diet as another part of your treatment plan, and take a cue from oncology nutritionists on overcoming these
common challenges:

Problem: "I'm too tired to cook"
Solution: Make meals on your high-energy days.
'You probably know you'll be tired for three days after chemo," says Tiffany Barrett, RD, at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta. "So make meals ahead of time and store them. When you need to eat, all you have to do is pop them in the oven or microwave. Keep grab-and-go snacks on hand like yogurt, peanut butter and crackers, and fruit and nuts. Or make a smoothie in the morning and save half for later in the day.'

Think of food as medicine! "You need calories and protein for recovery and rebuilding, whether it's muscle mass or simply weight," says Barrett. "So avoid skipping meals, and eat as though it's your medicine.'

Problem:'I'm nauseated.'
Solution: Graze on low-fat foods
Eat small frequent meals, and pick lower-fat foods that digest well, advises Barrett. "Plain chicken breast works. So do eggs and yogurt." Also: Avoid letting your stomach get too empty, or too full, says Barrett. "If you get too empty, your stomach creates more acid and can't tolerate food as well. If you get too full, you won't be able to digest it as well!'

Wake up nauseated?
'Eat toast or crackers, and wait a bit until you can handle more," says Barrett.

Tip! "Don't lie down after you eat," says Barrett. "A light stroll helps with digestion.'

Problem: "I have diarrhea.'
Solution: Try the BRAT diet!
'Some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and antibiotics, can cause diarrhea," says Natalie Ledesma, RD, at the University of California at San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. "But the BRAT diet'bananas, rice, applesauce and toast'can help. Also, drink plenty of liquids to replace the fluid you're losing," says Ledesma, who also advises steering clear of gas-producing foods such as broccoli, onions and beans. "Now is not the time to eat raw vegetables, particularly raw leafy greens, and the skins, seeds and stringy fibers of unpeeled fruit.'

Problem: "My Mouth is Sore"
Solution: Avoid foods that are acidic, salty, spicy or scratchy. Skip citrus, pickles, tomatoes, crackers, toast and cereal.

Choose bland, soft and easy to swallow.
'Mouth sores tend to occur
within a week of your first treatment," says Julie Lanford, RD, wellness director for Cancer Services Inc. (cancerdietitian.com). "So choose foods that won't irritate your mouth, like soups, potatoes, scrambled eggs, shakes, smoothies, pur?ed vegetables and
canned fruit.'

Sore mouth?
Try this mouth rinse. Mix until dissolved:
1 tsp baking soda and ? tsp salt in 1 qt. water. Swish and spit.

Problem: "My Mouth is Dry"
Solution: Drink up!
'Some chemo medications can damage your saliva glands," says Lanford. To the rescue: fluids! Drink 8 to 10 cups each day and rinse your mouth before bedtime. "Water is best, but if you need the calories, have watered-down juice," says Lanford. Other options: Moisten your food with sauce, oil or gravy.

Dodge dry mouth!
'At bedtime, swish with some olive oil or let a
pat of butter soften in your mouth'then spit," says Lanford. "It will coat your mouth so it doesn't dry out." And try running a cool-mist humidifier, too.
Diarrhea Aphthae Canker Sores Diarrhea Dry Heaves Dry Mouth Frequent Bowel Movements Insomnia Loose Bowel Movements Loose Stool Nausea Pain Shakes Sores in the Mouth Stool, Loose Throwing Up Watery Stool Xerostomia Cancer Fatigue Lose Weight Upset Stomach Chemotherapy

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