What to eat and what not to eat before, during, and after treatment can be confusing for any person going through a cancer journey. It is important to talk to your doctor or nurse navigator about the types of foods you should avoid and/or add into your diet, especially if you are fighting or recovering from oral cancer treatment. The right nutrients in your food can assist your body in rebuilding damaged (cancer) cells, and help you fight cancer.
What you should eat during and after oral cancer treatment
Foods rich in nutrients replenish your body. This includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, at least five servings per day. Other nutrient-rich foods include whole grain breads and cereals, lean meat such as chicken, turkey, or fish and low-fat dairy products.
What foods to avoid during and after oral cancer treatment
The biggest food groups to avoid during an oral cancer journey are salt, fat, alcohol, and sugar. These types of food are empty calories, meaning they provide no nutrients that benefit you and do not help your body fight cancer from growing and developing.
Why a balanced diet on a regular schedule is important in the oral cancer journey
For oral cancer patients, it is normal to develop loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, blistered mouth, or other oral or digestive issues during the cancer journey. It is important to fight any drastic weight loss, as it can negatively affect the effectiveness of the cancer treatment and your body's ability to fight cancer.
You may find these tips helpful:
- Eat small, frequent, healthy meals
- Coordinate your meals with the time of day that you are normally feeling best
- Avoid strong smells
- Eat cold, rather than hot foods
- Rinse your mouth with water before eating
- Instead of red meat, try poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, or other high-protein foods
- Try lemon-flavored drinks to stimulate saliva and taste
- Drink lots of fluids, especially if you are undergoing chemotherapy or have a dry, sore, or blistered mouth. Adequate fluids include: water, juice, soup, ice pops, tea, milk, and gelatin
- Avoid sugars, artificial sweeteners, and artificial lemon
By eating the correct foods the right way, it can help you feel, look, and operate better physically and mentally throughout your day-to-day life.