Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining your health during treatment for a neuroendocrine tumor. As every tumor is unique, every person has different nutritional needs. Nutrition during cancer treatment differs from conventional nutrition advice in that it often focuses on higher-calorie, higher-protein foods. The important thing to understand is that the goal of nutrition during cancer treatment is to keep you as healthy and as strong as possible to withstand the demands of your treatment regimen.
One way to determine if you are meeting your nutritional needs is to evaluate your body weight. Tumors can increase your metabolic rate meaning you need more calories to maintain your weight. If you find that you are losing weight without trying, you may need to add more calories to your diet. Higher-calorie foods include:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Full fat dairy products and butter
- Sauces and gravies
- Dried fruits
When trying to meet your calorie needs, don’t forget about adding protein. Protein helps maintain your muscle mass and boost your immune system. Sources of protein include:
- Animal meats
- Soy products
- Nuts and nut butters
If you find it hard to incorporate higher-calorie and higher-protein foods into your diet, including an oral supplement like Boost or Ensure can help you meet your nutritional goals.
Maintaining adequate nutrition can be especially difficult during chemotherapy and radiation. Each treatment can cause a vast array of side effects. These side effects can often hinder your ability to eat and maintain your weight. Below are a few tips to manage common side effects.
Nausea and Vomiting
- Focus on cold, dry foods
- Try eating small, frequent meals
- Drink ginger ale or ginger tea
- Eat adequate fiber
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Talk to your doctor about medication options
- Avoid high fat foods
- May need to avoid lactose, found in dairy products
- Avoid concentrated sweets like juice and soda
Change in Taste
- Sip on water with lemon before meals
- Choose tart foods like citrus fruits
- Try using plastic utensils instead of metal
- Use non-drying mouth washes such as Biotene
- Apply lip moisturizer liberally
- Hard candies can increase saliva production
Visit the National Cancer Institute for more details and suggestions on managing the physical effects of cancer treatment.
If you feel like you would benefit from more personalized nutrition information and management contact the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center Nutrition Clinic at (832) 355-2010 to set an appointment with a registered dietitian.