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Food Choices are Critical Following a Cancer Diagnosis

The following post was written by Jillian McKee, Outreach Coordinator at Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, and used with her permission

A healthy diet is a critical part of your healing and recovery after facing a cancer diagnosis. The power of nutrition is not to be underestimated when nourishing your body towards rehabilitation from cancers such as mesothelioma.

No matter what stage you are in your cancer journey, whether newly diagnosed or in the midst of treatment or in remission stage, your diet is key.

Keep it Fresh
In regards to cancer, a diet consisting of an abundance of fresh foods, while minimizing processed foods, can have a transformative effect on your energy levels. Nothing nourishes and hydrates like fresh fruit. If your appetite has decreased significantly and the thought of consuming large quantities of fruit is unappealing to you, don’t fear, there are creative ways to get in your fruit servings. Homemade smoothies are one simple way to take in a bounty of vitamins and minerals. Simply by combining your favorite nutrient-rich fruits like bananas and strawberries and adding a pinch of low-fat yogurt, you can create a thick, creamy smoothie in minutes. Don’t forget about adding super fruits such as blueberries and blackberries to the mix. These powerhouses of antioxidants help boost your body’s defenses. A delicious, sweet smoothie will taste just like a decadent dessert while nourishing your body! If your appetite isn’t ready for smoothies, you can create fresh juice at home with the aid of a juicer. Fresh apples or oranges pack a concentrated boost of vitamins and hydration. Unlike store bought juices, they do not contain preservatives or extra sugar, which is the last thing your body needs as it battles the effects of cancer. One tip provided by the USDA is to try unsweetened applesauce as a lower calorie oil substitute when baking cakes.

Eat for Strength
Everything you eat counts. If you want to strengthen your body and increase your energy levels, nothing succeeds like lean protein. A lean portion of chicken or steak is a great way to give your body the protein it needs. Red meat is fine in moderation, but you want to vary your protein sources with other things like fish, beans, or egg whites. Don’t let being a vegetarian get in the way of protein! Nonfat Greek yogurt often contains 15 grams or more of protein per serving.

Stay Hydrated
The effects of dehydration can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. This is the last thing you need as your body gives its all to battle cancer. Make sure you stay hydrated at all times. If you don’t find water appetizing, or have trouble making yourself drink, there are ways to get creative. Try pouring a few drops of cranberry juice or orange juice into your glass of water in order to sweeten it. Another option is squeezing fresh lemon, which also adds Vitamin C.

It’s Never Too Late to Start
If you were never much for healthy eating before your cancer diagnosis, that doesn’t mean you can’t start now. With so many fad diets and amateur advice out there in the world of self-help books and health blogs, you want to make sure that you’re taking a balanced approach – or risk putting your health in jeopardy. One great place to get basic information on taking a healthy approach is the USDA website. The days of the food pyramid are long gone, and now by visiting USDA, you can view detailed charts and graphics that help you chose portion sizes and daily requirements based on your age, weight, and height.

A healthy life is built bite by bite. Let your diet help to heal your body.



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