I am not a nutritionist, dietician or expert on what to eat during your chemotherapy treatment. But from my experience here are my tips on eating and drinking throughout chemotherapy:
1. Eating a healthy diet for basic good health
Eating a healthy diet for good health is clearly something that we should all be doing anyway, but it is particularly important whilst going through breast cancer treatment so that you maintain good energy levels, help boost your immunity and for general well being. I won’t harp on about what is a healthy diet (I will leave that to the nutritionists and dieticians) but I can direct you to some helpful info online via these excellent website pages on nutrition and cancer:
2. Eating and drinking do’s and don’ts during chemotherapy
· Eat a healthy diet.
· Wash fruit and vegetables carefully to avoid food poisoning.
· Avoid takeaways to avoid food poisoning.
· Avoid un-pasteurised dairy products to avoid food poisoning.
· Drink a lot of water. I was advised to drink 2 litres in the 24 hours following my chemo session and plenty of water throughout the course of chemo. I put a two litre jug of water in the fridge so I could track my fluid intake every day.
· Alcohol? The advice that I was given is that it is ok to have the occasional small drink, but always check with your oncologist or nurses at the start of your chemotherapy regime because the advice may depend upon which drugs you are being given.
· Check with your oncologist before taking any dietary supplements, even if you were taking them pre-BC.
DO NOT DRINK GRAPEFRUIT JUICE – I have recently been told that grapefruit juice can interfere with some chemo drugs so it is best to avoid it – but check with your medical team.
3. Eating to help with the nausea from the chemo
· Eat little and often.
· Try ginger things like ginger tea, ginger biscuits or stem ginger.
· Don’t eat your favourite things during this period because you could go off them.
· Peppermint tea or mint sweets (it was extra strong mints for me).
· It is often a case of trying and seeing what works for you in keeping the nausea at bay – go with what your tummy tells you.
· Try snacking on dry, plain food like plain crackers, water biscuits, dry toast.
· Boiled sweets can help with the nausea.
· Drink plenty of water.
· Helpful info online about this can be found on the Macmillan website.
4. Eating to help with a change in tastes and a furry, sore or metallic mouth
· Cut up a fresh pineapple and freeze the chunks in freezer bag – these are great to suck on when you have a horrible mouth.
· Make fresh orange juice ice lollies using plastic or silicone lolly molds (available at supermarkets and on Amazon) – I made my way through loads of these during chemo.
· Use plastic or bamboo knives and forks if metal ones emphasis the metallic taste in your mouth.
· Avoid spicy food such as curry and chillies.
· Avoid hard textured foods like French bread.
· If you don’t fancy, or can’t eat solids, then have soups, smoothies, stews and juices.
· Ice cream or sorbet can be soothing for a sore mouth.
· Drink plenty of fluids – if water tastes horrid the try adding fresh fruit, a little squash or herbal teas.
· Helpful info online can be found on the Macmillan website.
MY SNACKING LIST (in case you are looking for inspiration)
· Apple cut into small slices
· Orange cut into small slices
· Fresh melon cut into small pieces
· Banana cut into small pieces
· Strawberries (actually all types of berries)
· Celery cut into bite size chunks and filled with either cream cheese or peanut butter
· Savoury crackers (water biscuits, marmite biscuits, cream crackers) with cheddar
· Home made fresh orange juice ice lollies
· Fresh pineapple (cut into chunks and frozen)
· Biscuits: ginger
· Small slices of nice bread with butter and cheddar cheese
· Toasted sandwiches
(and don’t tell the nutritionists but I ate loads of crisps, pasta, white bread, pastry and potatoes because I craved them)
HELPFUL RESOURCES AND MORE INFORMATION
Nourish by Jane Clarke – a beautiful website from Jane Clarke (and her team) on eating during illness. It provides helpful advice about your diet during cancer, nutrition advice and also lots and lots of delicious looking recipes.
The World Cancer Research Fund have lots of booklets, recipes and posters that you can download from their site. Check out their “Eat Well During Cancer” section of the website and their “Recipes” section of the website
Note: my number 1 tip for someone about to embark upon chemotherapy or already undergoing it is to get a copy of “Braving Chemo: What to Expect, How to Prepare and How to Get Through It” by Beverly A. Zavaleta MD (available from Amazon and other book stores). For my full review of this book see Breast Cancer Book Reviews.