Chemotherapy

Creating Comfort Through Nutrition
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you or a loved one is undergoing chemotherapy is comfort. It is essential that the chemotherapy patient have pleasant and peaceful surroundings, especially in the days immediately following treatment. Comfort can mean many things to many people, so it is imperative that there are open lines of communication between the patient and caregiver so that the patient can freely express his/her needs.
When it comes to comfort through nutrition, here are a few points that may help create a comfortable atmosphere, and aid in minimizing nausea and maximizing the absorption of nutrients:

  • Create a calming environment, especially when eating by playing soft music, avoiding television, news and other distractions.
  • Eat small amounts of easily digested foods frequently, such as:
    • Vegetable broth, brands such as Imagine and Pacific have organic, natural broths (watch out for high sodium varieties, especially if water retention is an issue)
    • Light soups
    • Crackers, preferably organic whole grain choices with minimal hydrogenated fats
    • Dry toast
    • Fresh grated ginger tea: grate 1 teaspoon of ginger root into one cup hot water and steep for five minutes
    • Mint or chamomile tea
    • Ice water or juice chips : freeze fresh juices into an ice tray for easy access
  • Try wearing a "Sea Band" on the wrist to minimize nausea. They can be purchased at your local pharmacy.
  • Take short walks after meals to aid digestion. While walking, inhaling fresh air and taking in scenic views may help quell feelings of nausea.
  • Take anti-nausea medicines you know are safe for you as recommended by your medical doctor

Here are Some Ways To Reduce Constipation:

  • Drink ample water between meals.
  • Eat high fiber snacks such as whole grain cereals, stewed fruit, hydrated prunes, and wheat bran.
  • Drink prune juice. Start out with half a cup to assess bowel tolerance.
  • Try aloe vera juice. Dilute one tablespoon in one cup of water (make sure to start with no more than one tablespoon to assess bowel tolerance). Aloe vera juice is known for promoting beneficial flora properties which may aid digestion and heal tissue. Aloe vera juice (for internal use) can be purchased at any natural foods market such as New Leaf Markets or Whole Foods.

General Tips for Eating:

  • If you do not feel well, eat small, frequent meals as opposed to three larger meals each day. Five meals a day is optimum.
  • Consume plenty of water -- 1 oz. per two pounds of body weight.
  • Eat slowly, and sit up or walk after each meal.
  • Eat foods that are high in potassium such as bananas, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus and un-sulfured red apricots. Try to consume predominantly organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables. Try raw or marinated cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.
  • Try to eat foods that are in season for best nutrient density and freshness.
  • Keep a variety of healthy organic and convenient snacks readily available, such as: rice crackers, carrot sticks, and miso broth.
  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly, and this will help with digestion. If you find that you are experiencing indigestion or slower than usual digestion, talk to your medical doctor about taking a natural digestive enzyme (such as papain, a supplement made from papaya enzyme found in most health food stores).

Chemotherapy can put a strain on friendly bacteria in the intestines. You can help restore this balance of "friendly bacteria" by eating acidophilus-rich foods such as yogurt, or with the approval of your physician, taking acidophilus supplements. Keeping a balance in internal flora will help the body restore proper digestive function. Always remember to discuss supplements that you are taking with your health care team.
It is a good idea to be open to experimenting with a variety of foods with different textures and odors to find the foods that feel comfortable for you during this time. Remember, some foods that you usually love may be extremely distasteful to you during treatment.
To Lessen Dry Mouth:

  • Chew on ice chips.
  • Eat fruit juice popsicles, or homemade fruit ice chips made in your ice tray.
  • Prepare broths to sip with meals. Miso is an excellent choice.
  • Try drinking several small glasses of water between meals.