We know that cancer care is much more than just your treatment. At West Cancer Center, you have access to comprehensive and individualized wellness and support resources from diagnosis all the way through survivorship.
What to eat?
Carbohydrates, protein, fat! Have some of each of these main nutrients most meals and snacks.
Carbohydrates give you energy and are loaded with vitamins, fiber and other nutrients. They won’t lead to weight gain or high blood sugar if not overeaten.
Good choices = whole grains, fruits, vegetables. Have 2 to 5 servings of carbohydrate foods each meal – more if you need to gain weight.
Avoid/limit desserts, drinks, and snack foods high in sugar.
Protein helps build and maintain muscle, and rebuild cells, enzymes and hormones. A typical American diet has enough protein. You need to eat some carbohydrate foods so the protein in your diet can be used for building.
Healthy proteins include:
- Lean poultry
- Lean red meat (no more than 18 oz./week)
- Low fat dairy – cheese
- Dried beans and peas
- Peanut butter
- Soy products
- Vegetables and grains also have some protein
Six to eight ounces – or the equivalent – of high protein foods plus other foods in your diet should provide enough protein each day, even in treatment. See your dietitian to make sure, or if you need help increasing your protein intake.
Fat in your diet helps your body absorb certain vitamins, is found in cell walls, and keeps you full between meals. The best fats are from plants – nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olives, and oils like olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc. Avoid less healthful fats from processed snack foods, desserts and fried foods. Limit saturated fats (animal fats – full fat dairy, fatty meats) and tropical oils like palm oil, and avoid hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated fats. These are high in trans fatty acids. Have a little fat every meal.
How much to eat?
Eat enough to stay at or get to a healthful weight. Large portions may be the #1 reason many of us are overweight. What’s a good portion or serving size?
- About 1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, potatoes or vegetables OR
- One cup raw fruits or vegetables OR
- One small to medium piece – one slice bread, 1/2 a hamburger bun (one piece) or one small apple or pear.
Of course, you get more than one serving per meal 2- 5 servings of carbohydrate foods per meal is pretty typical.
- Limit animal protein to about 3 – 4 ounces per serving.
When to eat?
Three meals with an occasional snack works for most adults. Avoid going longer than 4 or 5 hours between meals. If you get too hungry you may notice a dip in your energy level; it can also lead to overeating. Unless you are losing weight unintentionally (as in treatment), don’t eat if you’re not hungry! If you don’t need to lose weight, eating more often can help increase your food intake and stop weight loss.
What about calories?
Calories count – and we need calories from protein, carbohydrate and fat. Each of these has nutrients not found in the other. The best “diet” includes foods from all the food groups with a focus on unprocessed foods. Watch your portion size.
What about fruits and vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of most of our vitamins, minerals, and cancer fighting compounds. They have carbohydrates for energy, fiber, phytonutrients, water and are (usually) fat-free. Five to nine servings each day is recommended by the American Institute of Cancer Research. Eating more vegetables and fruit is one of the best diet changes you can make.
What about desserts? And fast food?
Desserts and fast foods are usually carbohydrates and protein with lots of added sugar and/or fat, which translates into extra calories. FYI: one bite more than what you need each day – 10 calories a day – adds up to one pound of fat each year. You do the math. Save these foods for special occasions, and then enjoy them. And while life is a celebration, you don’t need cake and ice cream at every party.
More nutrition questions?
Call for an appointment with our Nutritionist! 901-683-0055 Ext 61250