Foods to fuel the fight!

How to eat sensibly, when nothing takes your fancy.

Some people get really hungry when on cancer treatment, while others find it a struggle to eat. Either way, aiming for a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go.

Here are some great tips for finding balance and maximising your nutrition from Carolyn Humphries, food writer and author, originally shared with us for Fight 13.



Foods to eat every day to help build your strength:

* A rainbow of fruit and vegetables – the more colours the better! These contain phytochemicals, which are thought to have a protective effect against cancer and its spread. Many are also antioxidants, which may help your fight too! 

* Include some cruciferous vegetables – Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, watercress, swede, turnips, radish, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli. These all contain a chemical called allyl isothiocyanate, which can help protect DNA against carcinogen damage. 

* All fruits are excellent, but pomegranates, blueberries, and cranberries (juice or fruit) are particularly powerful antioxidants and especially good at relieving any cystitis symptoms.

* Other foods rich in antioxidants are protein-rich whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds (and their oils), seafood, poultry and lean red meat (venison and goat are particularly good as they are lower in saturated fat).

* Omega 3 polyunsaturated fat can reduce inflammation and act as a natural pain blocker. You'll find it in oily fish (like anchovies salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring), flaxseed oil (the seeds whole will only really give you fibre), rapeseed oil, and walnuts, soya beans, pumpkin seeds and their oils.

* Eat more naturally fermented foods. This will not only help your body’s immune system but can help with any upset tummy during treatment. Go for live bio yoghurt, soft bloomed cheeses like Brie or Camembert, blue cheeses, brined cheeses, like Feta, and well-matured hard cheeses, such as aged mature Cheddar or Parmesan.



High-energy snacks

After treatment, many patients find that they lose their appetite and aren’t interested in food, which is difficult at a time when you need to be rebuilding your strength after surgery or treatment. The best way to solve the problem seems to be to eat little and often. When you need something tasty and nutritious to give you an energy hit, try these ideas.

* Cereal or fruit and nut bars

* Crackers with nut butter

* Dried fruits like dates, figs, mango

* Banana or malt bread

* A handful of raw nuts (with raisins if you like)



FASS foods:

Cancer itself and chemo can alter how food tastes – it may taste metallic or just weird. Adding more flavour can help the palatability, so make good use of herbs and spices and remember the acronym FASS: Fats, Acid, Salt, Sugar.

Fats: Use good-quality oils such as olive, rapeseed, sunflower or nut (walnut, hazelnut and sesame taste great). Put some good butter or butter spread on your toast.

Acid: A squeeze of lemon or lime juice can be added to lots of dishes or use citrus fruits to add zip and verve.

Salt: Sea salt flakes can add texture, useful minerals and bursts of flavour.

Sugar: A little honey or maple syrup can work wonders in anything from a salad dressing to a slight lift in a tomato-based dish.



To read more about diet and nutrition, download our patient information booklet on diet and nutrition.



Carolyn Humphries for Fight 13.


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