A healthy eating guide
Following a cancer diagnosis, many people want to make positive changes to their lives. Specially after we have spent most of our times relishing that butter chicken or that yummy chaat in the nearby market. Well food is like a crucial step in helping the treatment and recovery say from the disease and chemotherapy. Taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is often a major part of these changes.
- Fruit and vegetables
- Starchy foods and fibre
This information has been written for people living with or after cancer, who want to know more about a healthy diet. It explains why diet is important, and has tips on how to eat well and maintain a healthy body weight. It aims to help you think about what changes you may want to make, and help you put them into practice.
There are also answers to some commonly-asked questions about diet and cancer, and other sources of support and information, which we hope you’ll find useful.
For most people, a daily balanced diet includes:
- Lots of fruit and vegetables. eg add more salads. But since immunity is on a low and specially some fruit in India may not be the best options like the Apples or Grapes which are easily adulterated or injected with chemicals to make then look better or ripen them faster. So do check with your doctor incase you need to avoid some particular fruits.
- Plenty of starchy (carbohydrate) foods such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles, couscous and potatoes. Trust me this one doesnt sound like a good advice but for the crazy things the chemotherapy does to your body, one needs a lot of energy as well.
- Some protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs and pulses (beans and lentils). Infact being a chicken fan, I love the fact that my doctor told me to have a high dose of chicken or fish in my diet. But please do not do the typical mistake of cooking it the Indian style. say that oily gressy over cooked gravvy chicken. Its no good. Also am sure that the protiens are also lost by the high time of cooking. So try and have simpler chicken reciepies. Like a grill chicken or maybe a boiled chicken pieces added in a soup. Experiment and see what you prefer
- Some milk and dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurts and cream
- Just a small amount of food high in fat, salt and sugar
- Drinks should mainly be water, tea and coffee (without added sugar), or sugar-free drinks such as fizzy drinks, colas and squashes.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, and a great source of fibre. They should make up about a third of the food we eat every day. But most of us don’t eat enough of them.
Research suggests that people who eat diets high in fruit and vegetables may have a lower risk of heart disease. It also suggests that these diets may reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer (cancers of the mouth, gullet and bowel). Fruit and vegetables help food move quicker through the digestive system and prevent constipation.
Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. A portion is 80g (3oz) of raw, cooked or tinned fruit and vegetables, and is roughly:
- three heaped tablespoons of vegetables
- a dessert bowl of salad
- one average-sized fruit, like an apple, pear or banana
- two smaller fruits, like apricots or plums
- a slice of larger fruits, such as melon or mango
- a handful of small fruits, like cherries or berries
- a glass of fruit juice (150ml). Fruit juice only counts as one portion a day however much you drink.
Different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables of different colours will help make sure you’re getting a wide range of valuable nutrients.
Starchy foods and fibre
Starchy foods such as bread, chapatti, cereals, rice, pasta, yams and potatoes are a very important part of a healthy diet. They are a good source of energy and a major source of fibre, iron and B vitamins. Starchy foods should make up about a third of the food we eat each day.
Foods rich in fibre are a healthy option, but most people don’t eat enough. Try to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet, such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, oats, beans, peas, lentils, grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables.
High-fibre foods are more bulky. They help us feel full, so we’re less likely to eat too much. Fibre helps keep bowels healthy and prevent constipation. Eating a diet with plenty of high-fibre foods may also help reduce the risk of bowel cancer. And the fibre found in foods such as oats, beans and lentils may help reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
The body needs protein to perform a wide range of functions, such as the repair and growth of body cells. Protein-rich foods are often also a good source of vitamins and minerals.