The aim of good nutrition during cancer is to make sure your body has the right balance of nutrients that it needs to maintain muscles, keep active, cope with treatment and help you do the things that enable you to enjoy life.
Talk to your healthcare professional if you are having problems eating and drinking or if you are losing weight. Don’t leave it until it becomes really difficult. The sooner they know, the sooner they can help or refer you to a dietitian for specialist advice and support.
Many people with cancer will have good days and bad. If bad days aren’t all the time then try not to worry about them too much - but instead make the most of the days when you feel more positive.
Notice what made a good day ‘good’. Did you sleep well or manage to let go of worries for a while? Perhaps having small snacks or nourishing drinks was easier, or you got out and about. A visit from a friend may have been a welcome distraction.
When days are not going so well remind yourself what helped make a good day. Allow yourself to rest or just nibble on small snacks when you feel like it. For example, have a bowl of nuts to hand or take nourishing drinks which provide nutrition and fluid. Think positively about what you’ve eaten and try not to give yourself a hard time that you’ve not finished a whole meal.
When eating and drinking is difficult it’s important to make every mouthful count. That’s why choosing foods that are nutrient dense (foods high in energy, protein and other nutrients) is key.
Be careful of alternative diets or products that promise to treat or cure cancer
You may hear about alternative (or ‘Fad’) diets that claim to treat or cure cancer. Some of these diets may restrict certain types of foods or focus on unusual or unusual combinations of foods. No diet has been scientifically proven to cure or replace cancer treatment. ‘Fad’ diets can make it difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs.
Also, beware of theories that suggest that nutrients ‘feed’ cancer. These theories are not supported by scientific evidence relating to the outcome of cancer.
There are different tactics that could help you eat and/or drink more, depending on what is stopping you that particular day. This table will take you through some of the more common reasons cancer patients might not consume what they need, and some tips that might help. It also offers advice on how to prepare for those bad days during those times when you're feeling more positive.
Eating Tips for Bad Days - this table will open in a new window
Download Eating Tips (PDF format)