10 Simple Ways to Change Your Eating Habits After You’re Diagnosed with Cancer

by GregP_WN

Let’s take this one step at a time. No gimmicks, no calorie counting, no purging your pantry of all carbs, instead here are 10 simple ways that will start the process of changing your eating habits today shared by other people with cancer.

Cancer And Nutrition

1. Talk to Your Doctor
Find out from your doctor about your nutritional needs as it relates to your type of cancer, your current state of health, and your future treatment. It is likely that they will tell you to “eat healthy,” but discussing specifics rather than keeping it vague can improve your health. You can ask about which foods to avoid, what foods you can add, and how to get the vitamins and minerals you need.

2. Consult a Dietitian
A dietitian is a health care professional that has special training in food and nutrition; they use their knowledge to help your overall health through counseling and education. They can relieve your stress about eating by identifying your needs and coming up with an eating plan. Most hospitals have registered dietitians on staff.

3. Don’t Think of it as“Dieting”
Many people with cancer say that they have been more successful when they thought about dieting as simply a different way of eating or a lifestyle change. Some have said that it helps to make changes you plan on implementing for a lifetime; they have not been as successful when they think of it as a temporary diet plan.

4. Cut Things Out
People who have just been diagnosed with cancer identify one of their steps as cutting out anything they feel is obviously unhealthy. Try to cut out one thing at a time instead of trying to quit everything cold turkey and feeling discouraged about it later. Three common foods with a “bad reputation” include sweets, processed foods, and fast foods.

5. Plan and Have Healthy Foods On Hand
Most of the time people eat badly because it’s what they have around. Snack foods often have a lot of carbs and it is easy to fall into the trap of mindless snacking. If you plan ahead and have healthy foods on hand then you can be more deliberate on what you are eating.

6. Write Down Everything Thing You Eat
Writing down everything you eat will help you see exactly what you are eating and how you felt each day. As you record it, focus on the good and notice how the good foods made you feel, then try and consistently eat the things that made you feel good. Try not to focus on the bad things or the “slip ups.” It will also help when discussing what you have been eating with your doctor.

7. Get Creative
Some people with cancer feel like eating healthy is just too hard and that they get discouraged to easily. They have encouraged themselves by putting a healthy twist on their favorite foods, trying new recipes to make eating more fun, making cooking a new hobby, and getting creative with salads to sneak greens into their diet.

8. Ask People to Bring Healthy Foods
Friends may bring you meals or care packages of food; ask them to bring healthy items like fresh produce from the farmer’s market or pre-made salads. Let people know what you love to eat and what kind of foods will benefit you most. You may want to request healthy snack bars, nuts, or dried fruits.

9. Find a Buddy Who Shares Your Goals
It may be hard to diet alone. Find a friend, family member, or someone who is also going through treatment who shares your same diet goals. You can use this friend as an accountability partner and someone to share insights with; maybe they will have an idea about eating healthy that you would not have thought of. Even a buddy through WhatNext could help encourage you to eat right; you can share food ideas and recipes online.

10. Don’t Be too Hard on Yourself
It is easy to get discouraged if you feel like you have “fallen off the wagon.” Just because you slipped and ate something outside of your diet does not mean that all is lost. Continue with your eating plan even after slip. At the same time, people with cancer have said that setting challenging expectations for themselves kept them motivated.

One person with cancer called nutrition their “secret weapon.” Changing the way you eat may seem small, but those that have taken baby steps and made everyday changes to their diet have felt better and stronger through cancer treatment.

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