Why is it necessary?
Nutrition is important during all stages of cancer. Many changes
occur which can affect appetite and the way nutrients are used. In
addition, treatment can itself cause problems with food; it may make the
appetite worse by causing nausea, diarrhoea, constipation or taste
changes. Weight loss, caused by depression and loss of appetite, is
common even with just the knowledge of a cancer diagnosis.
Who would require the diet?
Any person who has a diagnosis or feels they might have cancer may be
at 'nutritional' risk. Nutritional risk means weight loss through
simple lack of appetite, or an early feeling of fullness. It may also be
due to other problems such as swallowing difficulties, constipation or
More seriously, in advanced cancer, there is an increased metabolic
rate (this is the rate at which the body burns energy for normal
activities) and so there is a greater requirement for energy from food.
It is in this group of people that food intake is at its lowest,
possibly caused by pain and the cancer treatment itself.
What is the diet and how does it work?
The main aim of dietary treatment is to provide adequate nutrition
from food to prevent weight loss and eventual starvation. It can also
help to relieve symptoms and to improve eating experiences. There is no
one specific diet that will do this and it is a combination of different
tactics that will help.
small portions, but have more frequent meal breaks, provide
encouragement, make the eating experience pleasurable, eg, music,
flowers, a change of scenery, a short walk if possible.
high calorie foods, have snacks between meals, try special food
supplements such as Build Up or Complan or those which can be specially
prescribed by the doctor to have in addition to the food that you eat.
using more herbs and spices, but beware some people may prefer flavours
without herbs and spices; try mouthwashes to refresh the mouth. Ice
cubes and fruit drink flavoured ice cubes may also help. Avoid foods
that cause particular problems.
|Nausea & vomiting
products may help, such as biscuits and drinks. Dry foods, cold foods,
and small frequent meals will help, as well as eating and cooking in a
well-ventilated room, as this reduces the smell of food. Try to get
someone else to cook. Fizzy drinks may help.