Food plays an important role in everyone’s life. It provides nutrition for health and healing and plays a part in social interactions, traditions and celebrations.
A cancer diagnosis changes all that. Eating your favorite foods often becomes a chore. While going through treatment, your sense of taste may change. Certain chemotherapy regimens can cause food to have a metallic taste. You might lose your appetite or desire to eat, especially if you experience nausea and vomiting. If you had gastrointestinal issues or disordered eating before your cancer diagnosis, they may worsen. Chewing and swallowing can become challenging or almost impossible if you have sores from head or neck cancer.
Not wanting or being able to eat can be frustrating for both you and your caregiver. The best thing to do is be patient. Set expectations before making changes. Figure out what you’re able to eat and have it ready when you feel like eating it. Avoid feeling guilty about not being able to eat at typical times. Don’t dwell on body issues either. Losing muscle and having loose skin is common.
To help with your eating issues, consider joining a support group. There may be monthly nutrition seminars in your area for you and your loved ones to participate in. They can help you overcome the emotional hurdle of eating during and after cancer.
Most cancer centers have registered dietitians on staff or can refer you to receive such services. They can teach you to practice mindful eating. For instance, a dietician might give you a piece of chocolate and ask you to smell and feel it rather than eat it. They could request that you hold the chocolate in your mouth but not chew it. Such acts teach you to focus on living in the moment and being aware of your feelings, which can apply to other areas of your life as well.
If you or someone you know is fighting cancer, get in touch with Chix 4 a Cause. Visit chix4acause.org to learn about our Gifts of Love program today.