Recipes Every Cancer Patient Should Try
Eating a balanced diet is sensible advice for anyone, but it is even more important if youve been diagnosed with cancer. The body needs vital nutrients and vitamins in order to keep healthy, fight infections and perform at its best. When you are already ill, eating well can help ease the symptoms of your disease, help you recover better from treatments, as well as give you more energy and help maintain a healthy body weight. However, cancer treatments can make you feel nauseous and leave you with little appetite.
Here are seven recipes you should try that are both nutritious and flavorful, but are light and easy to eat.
1. Chicken and White Bean Soup
Chicken soup is very soothing, packed with protein and easy to consume. Add in some white beans for extra flavor and even more protein, or substitute the beans for some noodles if you prefer. This soup is particularly easy to make because it uses store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Ingredients :3 cups of rotisserie chicken or chopped cooked chicken breast6 cups of low sodium chicken broth2 cups water15oz can white beans, rinsed1 Tbsp of oil2 stalks of celery, chopped3 carrots, peeled and chopped1 onion, dicedSalt and pepper to taste
Recipes For When You Have A Low Appetite
Many people with breast cancer have changes in their appetite. You may not be interested in eating or find yourself feeling full more quickly than usual.
Its important to find ways to adjust to a low appetite, though. Giving your body the nutrients it needs is important when going through treatment and coping with the stress of an illness.
Here are some tips to help with low appetite:
- Set a timer to remind yourself to eat every few hours.
- Make food more appealing by adding sauces, oils, cheese, or dressings. This can help boost flavor, calories, and nutrients.
- Go for a walk or get some fresh air to see if this helps to boost your appetite.
- Make meals more pleasant by eating with someone or while watching your favorite show.
- Consider smoothies or shakes if drinking feels easier than eating.
Here are some recipes with plenty of calories and protein to help you make the most of each meal:
- High protein mac n cheese. Cheese, milk, and Greek yogurt make this mac n cheese a protein-packed meal. This recipe has several optional add-ins, so you can customize it to your liking.
- High protein blueberry smoothie. Try sipping this smoothie throughout the day for some extra nutrition.
- Coconut banana muffins. There are plenty of nutrients in these muffins, which freeze well for a quick snack. Smear on some peanut butter to boost the protein content.
Here are some recipes that star fruits or vegetables:
Here are some other tips for adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
Best Foods For Breast Cancer
Its not clear whether eating a specific diet can improve outcomes for everyone with breast cancer. However, a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is usually linked with better results than an eating pattern that includes lots of refined sugars, red meats, and processed meats, per the American Cancer Society.
A balanced diet may include:
- Grains. This includes rice, pasta, quinoa, teff, bulgar, buckwheat, oats, and wheat.
- Lean proteins. This includes chicken, fish, soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and eggs.
- Dairy and non-dairy alternatives. This includes yogurt, cheese, and milk, as well as plant-based alternative milks made from almond, soy, or oats.
- Fruits. Choose a variety of fruits, including fresh, frozen, dried, or canned types.
- Vegetables. Eat a rainbow of colors from this group, whether they are fresh, frozen, or canned.
For a diet to work well, it shouldnt only focus on the essential nutrients it should also include foods you enjoy. So make sure you incorporate your favorite foods that you eat simply because they taste good and feel nourishing in your body, as well.
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Baked Eggs In Tomato Sauce With Kale
You can make these three-ingredient tomato-simmered eggs with things you probably already have on hand in your freezer and pantry. To make these baked eggs more like eggs in purgatory, look for a spicy tomato sauce and don’t forget some whole-wheat bread for dipping.
Should You Take Supplements During Cancer Treatment
If youre not eating as much as usual during treatment, or if you have side effects like vomiting and diarrhea that cause you to lose vitamins and nutrients, you might consider taking a multivitamin.
Vitamin D tends to be the most common vitamin deficiency, says Rajagopal. Vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong, reduces fatigue and supports bone health. Especially if youre on steroids, youll be at risk for bone density loss.
Talk to a registered dietitian and your oncologist before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.
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How To Prepare Cancer
Ive made three huge pots of Cancer-Fighting Soup now for Darcie and for our family. Let me tell you, its absolutely PACKED with flavor thanks to all the seasoning and veggies just as much as its PACKED with nutrition. Heres a 1 minute video showing how easily it comes together
The key to the complex flavor is to saute the aromatics to kick-start their flavor and then to season every step of the way.
Another tip is to chop all of the vegetables about the same size so they cook evenly and are bite-sized. Its actually a pet peeve of mine when vegetable soup contains pieces that are too big to enjoy in one bite. Its worth taking the time to chop them perfectly. My recipe will guide you to the perfect soup, so dont worry!
Chemotherapy And Cancer Recipes
Our recipes are crafted with the cancer fighter and the most common side-effects in mind. Each one is hand crafted to overcome mouth sores, metallic tastes, nausea, and loss of appetite.
If you find this information helpful, we encourage you to please buy a copy of Cooking for Chemo and After! to help support Cooking for Chemo. There are even more recipes, more helpful articles, and interactive learning guides inside of the book than we host on our website!
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What Foods Should You Avoid During Cancer Treatment
Be aware of whats going into your body during cancer treatment. Read nutrition labels and prepare as much of your own food as you can. Its best to stay away from highly refined, processed food. You should also avoid fried foods that contain a lot of hydrogenated oils, which can increase inflammation.
Since people with cancer often have compromised immune systems, consider skipping foods that carry the risk of foodborne illnesses, including:
- Lightly cooked or raw fish, such as sushi
- Soft-cooked eggs or foods that contain raw eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise
- Unpasteurized cheeses and dairy products
- Unwashed fruits or vegetables
How To Make Ahead And Freeze Cancer
This soup is perfect for making ahead and taking to a friend. If you want, just change the name to Immune-Boosting Soup if your friend has a cold. It has now been tested from fresh, reheated from the fridge as leftovers, and reheated after being frozen. It is delicious and works great in all these situations!
If you want to deliver it to a friend as a fresh meal or freezer meal, you can deliver it in one of these freezer containers, including a freezer container with lid or mason jars . I love using mason jars, since the soup can be divided into single servings. Just be sure to leave at least 1 inch of headspace at the top if freezing.
My hope is that you can make this recipe for yourself and/or take it to anyone else who is battling cancer or an illness. This Cancer-Fighting Soup fights inflammation in the body and provides warmth and comfort when healing.
You may even want to add a word of encouragement to the container you deliver it in, too. I quickly scribbled out a few favorite encouraging Bible verses in sharpie on the freezer containers of the soup for Darcie.
Or you may want to include a set of our printable Truth for Trials verse cards.
To make your meal a little more fancy-schmancy than mine with these Printable Freezer Meal labels to go on top.
I hope this recipe is a blessing to you or someone else. Please leave a comment for me, and Id love to pray for you or a loved one who is battling cancer.
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How Does Cancer Treatment Affect Your Diet
Treatments such as chemotherapy and some forms of radiation therapy can cause a variety of side effects, including:
- Constipation, which can cause discomfort and further reduce your desire to eat
- Diarrhea, which can drain your body of nutrients
- Fatigue, which means youre less active, so you burn fewer calories and dont feel as hungry throughout the day
- Loss of taste, which can make food unappealing
- Nausea and vomiting, which might reduce your appetite and cause weight loss
Sometimes it also depends on the specific type of cancer you have, explains Rajagopal. Treatment for breast cancer and blood cancers often involve steroids. Steroids can actually increase your appetite and increase your blood sugar levels, which might lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. So instead of losing weight, its possible to gain quite a bit of weight from the combination of medications and a more sedentary lifestyle during cancer treatment.
Some people also have hormone therapy after chemotherapy for breast cancer or endometrial cancer. The drugs suppress production of estrogen, a hormone that plays an important role in metabolism. If your metabolism slows down, you may put on weight.
People with pancreatic cancer often find it difficult to maintain their weight. Since the pancreas isnt functioning the way it should, they may not be able to digest food normally. This can lead to weight loss or malnourishment.
Eating For Cancer Prevention Vs Eating Well During Cancer Treatment
Its easy to be confused about the difference between eating for cancer prevention and eating a diet that is suitable for someone undergoing cancer treatment. Lets clarify.
Eating for cancer prevention focuses on reducing your exposure to potential carcinogens. When eaten regularly over an extended period, dietary carcinogens include meats cooked at high temperatures and those preserved using nitrates. During treatment, however, some of these foods may stimulate appetite and thus be beneficial.
During cancer treatment, you should choose foods that taste good, dont cause heartburn, and help you have regular bowel movements. Typical cancer treatment involves surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies like immunotherapy. Lets look at each in turn and see what diet modifications are most beneficial for each type of cancer treatment.
Surgery: After surgery for cancer, you need to eat more protein to aid in your recovery. For most people, this means adding another 20 grams a day, or the equivalent of about 3 ounces of fish, chicken, lean meat, or shellfish. Or about 8 ounces of beans, tofu, or quinoa.
Radiation: During radiation, avoid high-dose single antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, beta carotene, and Vitamin E, as these may blunt the effectiveness of your treatment.
Chemotherapy: Hydration is especially important during chemo. Protein needs are also increased. A ready-to-drink amino acid or peptide supplement can help you get both.
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Why Is Your Diet Important During Cancer Treatment
Since cancer treatment can lead to fluctuations in appetite and body weight, its important to pay close attention to your diet. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet during chemotherapy or radiation therapy can:
- Help manage treatment side effects
- Increase energy
- Reduce inflammation
Planning Your Cancer Treatment Diet
Registered dietitians have specialized training in the nutritional needs of people with specific diseases. Your dietitian can help you plan meals that give you the right number of calories and nutrients.
Its also important to build an eating plan thats practical for you, says Rajagopal. If youre busy in the evenings and dont have the time or energy to cook, try to select healthy takeout options. If youre on a budget, adding inexpensive, nutritious foods like beans or frozen fruit or vegetables to simple meals can go a long way.
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Treatment Side Effects & Nutrition
Now, lets look at some of the common side effects of cancer treatment and how modifying your diet may help you to manage them.
Fatigue is a common side effect of all cancer treatments. Dehydration can worsen fatigue, so its important to make sure you drink enough fluids each day. Start with drinking extra fluids first thing in the morning. Then, sip water and other unsweetened beverages throughout the day. After about 6:00 p.m., you should aim to eat your water by consuming foods with high water content. Eating soups and broths is an effective way to add electrolyte-rich, tasty fluids to your diet . Coconut water and other electrolyte-rich fluids are also good choices. Additionally, some people find drinking green tea or eating dark chocolate helps with fatigue.
During cancer treatment, you should choose foods that taste good, dont cause heartburn, and help you have regular bowel movements.
Where To Find Recipes Online
- From Treatment to Tablecollection of recipes for people with head and neck cancer. If you have trouble swallowing, the recipe book Beyond the Blendermay help.
- For culturally relevant recipes for Chinese and Greek communities, visit cancer.org.au to see culturally diverse recipes .
- For healthy recipe ideas, visit livelighter.com.au.
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Fuel A Healthy Diet With Our Delicious And Healthy Recipes
Try our wide variety of delicious, healthy recipes created with cancer prevention in mind, whether you’re a new cook or an experienced chef. We guarantee that all of our recipes have been created under the AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention and fits the New American Plate Model.
Containing Cancer fighting foods, our recipes are perfect as part of a well-balanced diet, and they are suitable recipes for cancer patients.
Roasted Salmon With Smoky Chickpeas & Greens
In this healthy salmon dinner, you’ll get a dose of greens and green dressing! Chowing down on 6 or more servings of dark leafy greens a week can help keep your brain in top shape. This dish features the Test Kitchen’s current go-to method for doctoring a can of chickpeas: spice them up and roast until crispy.
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Light Meal And Drink Ideas
- baked beans on toast with grated cheese
- crumpets or muffins toasted with cheese, and a piece of fruit
- scrambled or poached egg on toast and a glass of orange juice
- tuna or sardines on buttered toast with fresh tomato
- omelette with cheese or mushrooms and buttered bread
- toast with cheese, avocado or peanut butter, followed by sliced banana and yoghurt
- cereal or toasted muesli with full-cream milk and yoghurt
- porridge or rice pudding made with milk and cream
- pancakes or French toast with fruit and maple syrup
How Can Your Diet Help Manage Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Some dietary changes can help you manage side effects after your treatment begins. These side effects include:
- Appetite loss. Eat small meals or nutritious snacks throughout the day, rather than three large meals.
- Constipation. Drink plenty of water, consider a fiber supplement, and add veggies and beans to your meals.
- Diarrhea. Choose foods or drinks with sodium and potassium .
- Loss of taste. Knowing what to eat when you cant taste can be difficult. Consider trying new foods with different spices or marinades. You can also add strong flavors, such as lemon or lime juice.
- Nausea. Anti-nausea foods include citrus, ginger and peppermint oil. You can suck on a slice of lemon, drink ginger tea or eat ginger chews.
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Getting The Nutrition You Need During Cancer Treatment
After a diagnosis of cancer, many people feel a loss of confidence when it comes to nutrition. Some cancer survivors question their earlier food choices, while others begin to strictly limit foods they consider bad, like sugar and caffeine.
As food is one of the few areas over which cancer survivors have some control, it is important to recognize which diet modifications may be helpful, and which may simply reflect a bargaining aspect of adjusting to a cancer diagnosis.
While this thought process is understandable, its a good idea to look at what the science tells us. Lets see if there may be some sensible and empowering diet changes you can make without taking away the enjoyment of eating.
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Hemorrhoid bleeding is unnerving, but relatively benign and not an emergency. Spill turned her attention back to her sons impending birth.
When the bleeding continued postpartum, she knew something was wrong, but it took visits to several different doctors to convince them to act on it. Finally, nine months after her sons birth, and many doctors visits later, Spill was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a disease that has become increasingly common in young people in recent years.
At first, Spill was told she faced surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, a constellation of treatment that would have made conceiving another child not possible. But, as it happened, her doctors discovered that she was eligible for a clinical trial of a new immunotherapy treatment.
That treatment put her cancer into remission.
Now, she says, Im able to live my life. I just love every single day, and it is just a miracle, to be honest.
As shes moved forward, past her diagnosis and treatment, the question of how to live healthily, in a way most conducive to keeping cancer at bay, has come to the forefront. For Spill, that has meant, first and foremost, a focus on her diet.
Her oncologist told her to cut back on red meats and cold cuts, and shes made those changes. But Spill wants to do more. And her instincts are good, says Joseph Feuerstein, MD, assistant professor at Columbia University in New York City and an integrative physician in Connecticut.
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