Nutrition

A healthier diet can make a healthier you! The following resources will help you meet your nutritional needs to be strong during and healthy after cancer.

Eating Well Through Cancer: Easy Recipes & Recommendations During & After Treatment, by Holly Clegg and noted oncologist Gerald Miletetello, MD is designed specifically for people undergoing cancer treatment. This unique book is divided into chapters that include recipes, suggestions, tips...plus more that is best tolerated and eases the side effects during treatment. The book is designed to help cancer patients better tolerate treatment and maintain a healthy lifestyle after treatment. For more information visit hollyclegg.com.

Quick and Healthy, by Brenda J. Ponichtera, a Registered Dietician

Anti-Cancer:A New Way Of Life, by Dr. David Servan-Schreider

The American Cancer Society has nutrition information and cookbooks available.

American Institute for Cancer Research provides nutrition information and healthy recipes along with a free newsletter.

Cancer Nutrition Consortium is a group of six leading national cancer centers whose mission is to combine resources in health, culinary and industry to focus on the issue of food, taste and nutrition as it relates to cancer treatment in an effort to improve the quality of life of patients. Available on the website are recipes created by The Culinary Institute of America specifically for the nutritional needs/desires of those currently in cancer treatment.

Cook For Your Life helps people to eat healthy after being touched by cancer. Offers cooking videos, a nutritionist to answer questions, and a search engine that organizes recipes based on treatment, side effect and dietary needs.

LIVESTRONG.com health and nutritional information including recipes and fitness ideas for cancer survivors and anyone interested in a healthy lifestyle.

41 Foods That May Reduce Your Cancer Risk, a Grocery List from MD Anderson Cancer Center. Get the list here.

Articles

Eating the Rainbow (pdf)
Nutrition Before Treatment
18 Healthy Snacks

Eating the Rainbow for Good Nutrition
The Vitamins and Minerals of the Color Wheel

The nutrients in fruits and vegetables can often be categorized by their colors. Here are the vitamins and minerals you can expect to find in each:

  1. Red In fruits and vegetables, red is usually a sign of vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C. Typically; red produce is also high in manganese and fiber. Choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates, and beets. Red apples also contain quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, the flu, and allergies. Tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit are loaded with lycopene, a compound that appears to have cancer-fighting properties.
  2. Orange Just a shade away from red, orange in fruits and vegetables signifies a similar vitamin and mineral profile. You'll get vitamins C, A, and B6, potassium, and fiber in choices such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches.
  3. Yellow Banana is probably the first yellow fruit that comes to mind - and it delivers potassium and fiber. You will also find potassium and fiber plus manganese, vitamin A, and magnesium in other yellow produce, such as spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers.
  4. Green Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients, and you should add a variety to your diet - this group offers far more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce. One of the best dark leafy green is spinach because of its rich lutein content, which aids eyesight, and folate, which supports cell reproduction. Broccoli and asparagus also contain these compounds.
  5. Blue Think blue, and you're most likely picturing a bowl of blueberries, one of nature's most powerful antioxidants. They are also loaded with fiber and make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet - eat them by the handful, sprinkle them on cereal, or add them to salads for a different and delicious taste.
  6. Purple This group includes vegetables like red onions and eggplant, and fruits such as blackberries, Concord grapes, currants, and plums. Purple indicates the presence of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. You can also find vitamin A and flavonoids in purple vegetables like radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots.
  7. White White may not be much of a color, but white vegetables, such as cauliflower, rutabagas, and parsnips, still shine with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, K, and folate, and they contain fiber. Don't forget onions and garlic, which have a compound called allicin that seems to protect the heart and blood vessels from damage.

By Wyatt Myers
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Download PDF >


Nutrition Before Cancer Treatment Begins

Eating well before cancer treatment begins may help to increase your energy and improve your sleeping patterns. If you have lost weight before starting treatment due to your cancer, you may be encouraged to follow a high-protein, high-calorie diet. To prepare yourself and your home for your nutritional needs during cancer therapy, consider the following suggestions:

Stock the refrigerator with plenty of your favorite foods so that you will not have to shop as often. Make sure these are foods you can eat when you are not feeling well.

Cook large portions of your favorite dishes in advance and freeze them in meal-sized portions.

Save your energy, buy foods that are easy to prepare, such as peanut butter, pudding, frozen dinners, soup, canned fish or chicken, cheese, and eggs.

Ask family and friends to help you cook and shop.

Talk to a registered dietitian about meal planning, grocery shopping, and reducing side effects of treatment, such as nausea and diarrhea.

Talk to your physician or registered dietitian about whether you should take a multivitamin.

By planning ahead, you will have foods on hand that you like to eat, which will be beneficial to you later. You will have good things to choose from in your kitchen even if you do not feel well enough to prepare an elaborate meal. You may also come to think differently about your weight. If you have been concerned in the past about weight gain, your focus will likely change to eating enough to keep your weight constant.

Before treatment begins, a cancer tumor itself can cause problems that may result in eating problems or weight loss. It is not uncommon to have lactose intolerance (intolerance to milk sugar), nausea, vomiting, poor digestion, or a feeling of early fullness, sleepiness, and forgetfulness even before treatment for cancer.Stanford University Cancer Center


18 Healthy Snacks on the Go

It's easy to stop for fast-food burgers or fries, or grab a bag of chips or candy for a snack, lunch, or while traveling. But with just a little bit of forethought at the grocery store, you can pick up healthy and delicious eats you and the kids will love. And what's more: regularly choosing foods that help you maintain a healthy weight can lower your risk of several cancers, including breast, colon, and pancreatic cancers. American Cancer Society Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, offers these easy-to-prepare ideas:

For traveling:

•       String cheese or cheese cubes and whole-grain crackers

•       Hummus and whole-wheat pita bread

•       Carrots, pepper strips, and celery sticks (sometimes with ranch dressing to dip)

•       Edamame (soy beans) and sweet cherry tomatoes

•       Whole fruit or fruit slices (dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown)

•       Trail mix made with cereals, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, or raisins

For the lunchbox:

•       Whole-wheat tortillas smeared with low-fat refried beans (or filled with black beans and/or leftover rice), with salsa for dipping

•       Whole-wheat tortilla with turkey, cheese, and apple or avocado slices

•       Peanut or almond butter sandwich on whole-grain bread with banana slices or raisins

•       Leftover grilled or baked chicken strips with honey mustard for dipping

•       Any kind of leftovers, heated and put in a thermos (chili, spaghetti, stir-fry, soup, etc.)

•       High-fiber, low-sugar cereal and low-fat or skim milk. (Look for cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.)

•       Single portion-sized cups of unsweetened apple sauce or fruit packed in its own juice, without added sugar

•       Celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins or other dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries)

•       Colorful salad greens topped with cut-up vegetables and/or dried fruit. Optional: add a protein source such as hard-boiled egg slices, leftover rotisserie chicken, chickpeas, or nuts. Pack dressing on the side, or put it in the bottom of the salad container and shake it before eating to spread the dressing around.

Other "sides" and snacks

•       Individual serving-sized packages of low-fat, low-sugar yogurt (look for no more than 20 grams of sugar per 6 ounces)

•       Baked tortilla chips and salsa

•       Popcorn without added salt or butter

The American Cancer Society | 250 Williams Street | Atlanta, GA 30303

Copyright 2013 © American Cancer Society

"I tried to make sure my husband had the proper nutrition during his chemotherapy treatments. I would prepare healthy foods that sounded good to him; the key was, what sounded good?" Kathy Hoeksema, Featured HOPE Survivor/Caregiver

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