Coping up with extreme feelings:
For a person who is recently diagnosed with cancer, it is absolutely normal to have feelings like Depression, Anxiety, Anger and one must be feeling why this happened to me. It is normal to have such feelings. Although these are not eating problems, strong feelings like these can affect your interest in food, shopping, and cooking. Fatigue can also make it harder to cope.
There are many things that you can do to cope up with your appetite. Before the treatment plan begins, it is better to know what to expect regarding your change in eating pattern.
Many people feel more in control when they know what to expect and how to manage problems that might occur. Be active each day. Studies show that many people feel better when they take short walks or do light exercise each day. Being active like this can also help improve your appetite and can make you feel better. For example taking short walks with the people you love could boost up your energy. It is not required to go to a gym or so. A short walk around the house will do. Make sure that you do not overdo and exert yourself too much.
- Get enough rest. Make sure you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. During the day, spend time doing quiet activities such as reading or watching a movie.
- Do not exert yourself too much. Look for easier ways to do your daily tasks. Your priority should be your health.
There are a number of eating problems associated with your treatment. But remember that each one will vary in their outcome. You may have appetite loss for just 1 or 2 days, or throughout your course of treatment.
Be Careful to Avoid Food Infection
Your doctor might advise you a Neutropenic Diet if you are more prone to infections. While you are on Neutropenic Diet:
- Do not eat anything that is raw.
- Consume only cooked foods and Vegetables.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Put leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as you have finished eating.
- Wash your hands, knives, and countertops before and after you prepare food. This step is most important when preparing raw meat, chicken, turkey, and fish.
- Wash your hands each time you touch raw meat, chicken, turkey, or fish.
- Use one cutting board for meat and another one for fruits and vegetables.
- Thaw meat, chicken, and fish in the refrigerator or defrost them in the microwave. Cook meat, chicken, turkey, and eggs thoroughly. Eggs should be hard, not runny. Meats should not have any pink inside.
To make sure that meat, chicken and fish is safe, use a meat thermometer and cook to the safe temperature.
Make sure your juices and milk products are pasteurized.
WHEN YOU ARE ON A NEUTROPENIC DIET DO NOT:
- Do Not Eat raw fish or shellfish, such as sushi and uncooked oysters.
- Do Not Eat raw nuts.
- Do Not Use foods, condiments, or drinks that are past their freshness date.
- Do Not Buy foods from bulk bins.
- Do Not Eat at buffets, salad bars, or self-service restaurants.
- Do Not Eat foods that show signs of mold, including moldy cheeses such as bleu cheese and Roquefort.
- Do Not Eat any perishable foods that have been sitting at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
- Do Not Eat leftovers that have been in the refrigerator longer than 3 days.
- Do Not Leave meat, chicken, turkey, or fish sitting out to thaw.
BEFORE THE TREATMENT
Before going to Hospital for a treatment be it a Chemotherapy or radiation or both below points might help you in some way.
Since each one’s body responds differently and because everyone is different, there is no way to know if you will have eating problems. Sometimes you may not even have any problems like many but sometimes you may have just a few problems or none at all. It all depends on the type of cancer you have, where it is in your body, what kind of treatment you have, how long the treatment lasts, and the doses of treatment you receive.
During treatment, there are many helpful medicines and other ways to manage eating problem. Some tips for you below.
- Fill the refrigerator, cupboard, and freezer with healthy foods. Make sure to include items you can eat even when you feel sick.
- Cook foods ahead of time and freeze in meal-sized portions.
- Ask friends or family to help you shop and cook during your treatment. Maybe a friend or relative can set up a schedule of the tasks that need to be done and the people who will do them.
- Create a grocery list of items you usually buy so that it is easy for friends and family to shop for you. Also make a list of items that you would like to probably have after coming back home.
- If the stay in the hospital is for less than one week or so, then you could probably cut and chop the vegetables and freeze it for future use.
- Remember to stock some ice- creams and yoghurts.
AFTER THE TREATMENT
You may feel down after your treatment procedure, Chemotherap or radiation therapy. A problem called esophagitis can make the lining of your throat inflamed and sore and it may feel like as if you have lump in your throat or that your chest or throat is burning. You may also have trouble swallowing. These problems may make it hard to eat and cause weight loss.
More over the compulsion to eat more, from your near and dear ones make you feel agitated and irritated. When you understand that it is very usual to have all these problems for quite some time until your treatment subsides, you can easily make changes in your food pattern. Some types of chemotherapy and radiation to the head and neck can harm fast-growing cells, such as those in the lining of your throat. Your risk for a sore throat, trouble swallowing, or other throat problems depends on:
- How much radiation you are getting
- If you are getting chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time
- Whether you use tobacco or drink alcohol during your course of cancer treatment
Avoid foods that can burn your throat such as :
- Hot Coffee or Tea or any other hot beverages.
- Acidic Fruit Juices such as tomato, oranges or even lime. But remember that each individual is different and if you feel comfortable with these fruits take it as much as you like.
- Alcoholic drinks
FOR YOUR LOVED ONES WHO TAKES CARE OF YOU:
The person who is looking after the patient also needs support and continuous encouragement.
It must be surprising for you when your loved one stops having food the
food she/ he loved the most, leaving you with not much choices. But it is always better not to force and push your loved one to eat.
You can care for your loved one by keeping few roasted nuts on the bed side if she/he likes it. Also you could do the cutting part of fruits for your partner so that it is easy to just nibble on.
Remember to keep drinking water in easily accessible areas and suggest them to have lots of them even if they are not feeling thirsty. Encourage them to have sips of fresh juice or water in between so that they can stay well hydrated.