• "Unhealthy" Diet

    Asked by cwhite9745 on Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    "Unhealthy" Diet

    My dad was diagnosed Sept., 2012. Through this process I have come to understand the importance in making good food choices. The doctor has told him not to drop weight. He interprets this as being able to eat whatever he wants, healthy or not. He is a sugar-hoilic and eats lots of ice cream & sweets. Of course I am assuming eating all the ice cream you want is not the doctor's intention. What can I say to help my dad make good choices. I've heard yes and no on the theory that sugar "feeds the cancer". Any input is greatly appreciated.

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      All other things being equal, a healthy diet is always better than an unhealthy one. But with cancer, not all things are equal. Cancer treatment can change your tastebuds, cause nausea, and affect appetite. When I was in chemo the only foods I could tolerate were cheese tomatoes and bread and crackers. I pretty much lived on tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and mac and cheese for months. Healthy diet? Of course not, but it beats no diet. Good food choices for cancer patients can be very different that for others.

      Is he gaining a lot of weight? Is he a diabetic? If his current eating habits are not causing new additional health problems, then my suggestion is to leave him alone. There is nothing you can do to force him to change and nagging him to change when that may not even be in his best interests right now only increases stress for both him an you.

      Everything we eat, whether it be refined sugar to a t bone steak is metabolize into sugar. That is the only way our bodies can utilized what we eat for energy. Therefore, sugar basically feeds our bodies and every cell in it, cancerous or not. Without it we die.

      over 3 years ago
    • RachaelC@StF's Avatar
      RachaelC@StF Community Outreach Coordinator 317-528-7794

      Hi cwhite9745,
      Do you think your dad would benefit from a vist to dietician? For example, St. Francis has a dietician specifically dedicated to oncology. She meets with patients to set up meal plans or suggest foods that would be good in the diet of a cancer patient. Does the hospital where your dad is being treated have something like that? Could his doctor suggest foods he should stick to/stay away from?
      Hope these suggestions help!

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      You're right - eating all the sweets and ice creams you want is not what the doctor meant. Oncologist don't like people in treatment to lose weight, because this usually means that they are not eating enough due to the side effects of treatment. Also the body doesn't process nutrients as efficiently on chemo, so we need to make sure we eat enough food to get the fuel etc we need from what we eat. Lots of clean easy to digest food is best. Of course a treat every now and then is just fine.

      I know that your father's behavior is very frustrating for you. That said, this is an issue that only he can resolve, if he wants to. What you can do is make sure that there is lot's of healthy food around that is easy to prepare and/or heat up. Speak with someone on his oncology team or a social worker, and let them know what your dad is eating. Ask them to talk to your father about what he should be eating to keep as healthy as he can. The worst thing you can do is nag him.

      Good luck to both of you.

      over 3 years ago
    • CherylS@StF's Avatar

      The sugar theory is that of great controversy and I would just answer in a simplistic way that "all things in moderation" and "sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing". A large part of our bodies cells are made up of protein and when we are sick often our body gets depleted of that "oh so important protein". I always educate patients on the need to eat plenty of healthy proteins. Sometimes cancer plays with your appetite and so I stress at the beginning of their diagnosis and all the way through and after their treatments to start eating frequent, small, high protein food snacks/meals throughout the day. Replinishing the cells should be incorporated into your goal to becoming healthier and fighting the cancer war. My personal opinion regarding sugar is that it is reasonable to reward yourself with a sweet occassionally maybe ever once a day, but always keeping in mind that most sweets are not high in proteins.

      over 3 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar

      A healthy diet is better but I can tell when I was receiving chemo...I lost 40 pounds.This was over 12 weeks. The reason I lost so much weight is because the chemo made me pretty sick. I had no appetite. I was able to eat a small bowl of frosted flakes in the morning and a small bowl at night. I discussed my diet with my Oncologist when I started and he told me to eat what I could. The important thing is to STAY HYDRATED.

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Nor having gone through chemo (I'm a BC patient), and having no appetite problems, I myself am not the person to gibe avice about personally, but I was a caregiver for my Dad with CLL. He was always one of those very lucky people who was very thin and could eat as much of anything they wanted without gaining weight. He didn't react very badly to his chemo, but it did affect his appetite so in order to stimulate it, his oncologist prescribed Marinol ([synthetic marijuana] we're in NY State). This was not for pain-just to stimulate appetite and it worked really well!! My father loved eating nearly everything in sight after that and yes, he did have the munchies...;)

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      Well I'll tell you I have a big challenge with the idea of an unhealthy diet being related to cancer. I think it can be related to other disease and health issues but I don't buy the cancer relationship..I am first generation Greek American. My grandparents in Greece on my Fathers side ate the most healthy diet you can imagine. Absolutly NO red meat..Clean natural foods, vegies, cheese, whole grains and they both died at a yong age from cancer.

      We all ate a beautiful diet growing up..Fish,vegtibles, only olive oil etc. Both my p[arents died of cancer and I lost my 58 year old sister ( was very very healthy) to cancer and now me. I have met so many many people who were health nuts and they have cancer..My daughter dislikes McDonalds because we never eat it..I agree he should not loose weight..And I eat very healthy but not because i think there is a relation to cancer..Go sit in the cafeteria at the hospital and watch what the Doctors eat. Then you can see what i mean.

      Make sure he takes a multivitamin approved by your Onc. make sure he gets a low sugar ensure or instant breakfast, if not everyday a few times per week, and the rest is up to him. Try and get him frozen yogurt, try and have home made good foods that he likes available with added vegtibles, You can scramle eggs and put fridge, pancakes with flax, and other healthy foods can be made and put in frige or freezer so its easy for him to re heat. Heating up the food can increase appetite. Engage all the senses for eating to help increase desire for the food.Home made pizza, whole wheat crust, with lots of veggies freezes well.

      But let him eat what he wants.

      over 3 years ago
    • Queen_Tatiana's Avatar

      Food. Food. Food. With my husband I have tried to do the healthier diet. All natural. Organic. While I still prefer to shop this way I have learned I cannot dictate what he eats or doesn't eat. Chemo changes your eating. My husband eats what he feels like eating and if that means a chicken sandwich from McDonald's then so be it, at least he's getting something in his stomach. I've come to terms with it and learned to let it be. As long as your husband doesn't have any other disease that effects what he eats such as diabetes, then I would suggest simply making sure he eats something.

      over 3 years ago

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