Dietician Fiona Rowell has always had excellent ideas about food and nutrition for people in various stages of life, but this year has had to road-test her own resources, as she learned what was the best food for her during her chemotherapy journey.
Fiona thought she’d be the last person to get cancer, but it can happen to anyone, and everyone’s journey is different. Chemotherapy reduces small cell growth in the body, killing the cancer, but also causing damage in the mouth and stomach.
During her treatment, Fiona felt nauseous, her taste changed, and she was very prone to mouth ulcers. So what do you eat when you have to avoid acidic food, anything scratchy or crunchy, and generally don’t feel like eating?
Show Notes – Eating good food during chemotherapy
- Exercise is hard when you’re tired all the time. However, exercise is also the most powerful when you feel at your absolute worst. It doesn’t need to be much; a little walk around the garden, a walk to the coffee shop with a friend. Whatever you feel you can manage each day, do that.
- Fiona found herself active in the mornings, but needed to sleep in the afternoons, sometimes up to three hours, and then still nine hours each night. She struggled with guilt about not doing any work, but encouraging friends and family told her to relax.
- Side effects of chemotherapy are low energy, low appetite, and constipation, which gave Fiona bad gut pain. As well as this cancer itself can make you feel sick and give people taste changes.
- Fiona concentrated on getting enough calories daily so she didn’t lose weight, and kept her meal portions small. She had frequent meals rather than bigger, larger ones, and sometimes went only a couple of hours between meals.
- If she didn’t feel like food she had nourishing liquids like smoothies, often with LSA (Linseed, Soy Almond powder, available at the supermarket), or a small amount of fish or chicken in it for protein.
- She found sweet foods easier to eat than savoury, struggled to eat anything like a quiche, but would make a “healthier option” choice of an almond friand rather than a choc-chip biscuit for instance. Similarly, cold foods were easier to eat for her than hot, so she ate a lot of sandwiches.
- If someone you know is going through chemotherapy, if you can, make soup, or food for the rest of the family. It makes a world of difference at an otherwise very stressful time.
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