Breast cancer treatment can be exhausting, resulting in fatigue that can make it hard for patients to tackle all of the tasks that come with a typical day. That includes preparing meals, which is often the last thing a person fighting breast cancer wants to do after a day of treatment.
But nutrition plays a vital role in beating cancer. A nutritious diet can promote strength and increase energy levels, something breast cancer patients know is not always easy to come by. The following are a few tips to help men and women undergoing breast cancer treatment maintain a nutritious diet throughout their treatments.
* Plan ahead when you're feeling strong. Breast cancer patients often have good days and not-so-good days during the course of their treatments. When the latter comes around, everyday tasks like cooking meals can seem as exhausting as climbing Mount Everest. So breast cancer patients can plan ahead for such days by going the extra mile on those days when their energy levels aren't compromised. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them so they require minimal effort on those days when energy levels are low.
* Avoid empty calories. Empty calories like those found in a bag of potato chips won't help fight fatigue on those days when your energy levels are low. When eating, opt for foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients but not heavy in calories. A meal that is dense in nutrients but not calories will benefit your energy levels, while a calorie-dense meal will only foster feelings of fatigue.
* Opt for snacks that are high in protein. When snacking during the day, it's possible to counter any exhausting effects of breast cancer treatment by choosing high-protein snacks. Foods that are high in protein, including low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and almonds, can improve your energy levels because the body does not break protein down as easily as it does carbohydrates. So protein can be a longer-lasting energy source than snacking alternatives that are low in protein. If you aren't much of a snacker, consider a protein shake.
* Buy in bulk. When visiting the grocery store, buy items in bulk so you won't have to make as many trips there. This can help on those days when energy levels are waning. Further save energy by asking a store employee to carry your groceries to your car. On those days when the cupboard is bare and you don't feel up to a trip to the store, call your local grocer, explain your situation and ask if it's possible to have groceries delivered. Many grocers would be glad to help.
* Modify recipes. In addition to boosting your energy levels, protein helps heal and rebuild tissues, and you can modify recipes to include more protein and improve your energy levels. For example, add cheese to sandwiches, pasta dishes and casseroles, as dairy is a strong source of protein. When cooking, use milk instead of water when possible. Beans are another great source of protein, so add them to chili, pasta sauces or soups when cooking. There are many ways to modify recipes to include more protein that won't compromise taste. If you're unsure of how to do so, discuss this with a physician or dietician.
Fatigue is a common side effect of cancer treatment, but there are many ways men and women undergoing breast cancer treatment can alter their diets to make their meals more nutritious, improving their energy levels as a result.