Calories and Protein during Cancer Care

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Calories and Protein during Cancer Care

When it comes to calories and protein intake during cancer care, follow your doctor’s instructions first. Their guidance may be different than information you find elsewhere, because your situation and health needs may differ. Otherwise, below are some guidelines for getting the most from your diet during cancer care.

Getting the Most Nutrition from Your Eating

During cancer treatment, large meals often seem overwhelming. This especially applies when you suffer low appetite or feeling full right away when you start eating. The tips below help many people living through cancer care get enough calories for their best health and recovery.

  • Eat six to eight small meals each day, instead of three main meals
  • Serve yourself smaller portions of food on small plates, instead of dinner plates
  • Drink hot cocoa, fruit juice and nectars with high calories instead of lower calorie beverages
  • Avoid water, coffee, tea and diet drinks that fill you up on fluids but provide no calories
  • Enjoy chocolate milk and milkshakes
  • Enjoy your favorite snack foods at home and during your work day
  • Eat your favorite foods whenever the mood strikes you, such as eating breakfast pancakes at dinner
  • Brighten your meals with lively colors and textures to add appeal
  • Enjoy eating in a relaxing, pleasant setting
  • Boost your appetite through favorite food smells, like cookies in the oven, bacon or baking bread

Add More Protein to Your Diet

Protein plays an important role in balancing your nutrition for your best functioning. You likely need more protein than usual during your cancer treatment, particularly if you recently underwent surgery or have wounds. Below are suggestions to help you increase your protein intake in your diet.

  • Eat protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, pork, beef, eggs, lamb, milk, tofu, cheese and beans
  • Enjoy pudding, cocoa, omelets, pancakes, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, milkshakes and casseroles with powdered milk added
  • Add extra cheese and diced meats to your breakfast foods like omelets and eggs
  • Enjoy cheese, nut butters and crackers as snacks
  • Drizzle honey or add cheese wedges to your fruit, such as apple slices
  • Blend nut butter into your milkshakes
  • Snack on roasted sunflower, pumpkin, chia seeds or nuts
  • Eat hummus with pita bread for snacks
  • Add cooked meats to casseroles, soups, salads and omelets
  • Add seeds or wheat germ to cereals, yogurt and meat spreads
  • Eat egg-rich desserts like angel food cake, custards, cheesecakes and puddings
  • Add grated cheese to everything you like, to taste
  • Melt cheese on burgers or cutlets
  • Add hard-boiled eggs, nuts, beans, tofu or chickpeas to your salads

Add More Calories to Your Diet

Calories help you fight your cancer. To add more calories to your diet for cancer recovery, simply follow some of the tips below.

  • Avoid fat-free or reduced fat foods
  • Add nuts, fruits or seeds to cereals, ice cream and salads
  • Drink fruit nectar and shakes
  • Add butter, oil, margarine or other spreads to potatoes, rice, vegetables, sandwiches, toast, hot cereals, grits and pasta
  • Enjoy cream cheese on your vegetables, toast or bagels
  • Add jelly and honey to breads or crackers
  • Add diced fruit to your jam for ice cream or cake topping
  • Eat tortilla chips with guacamole
  • Use high calorie dressings on salads, vegetables, baked potatoes or breadsticks
  • Enjoy sour cream, heavy cream or half and half in potatoes, cake, pancakes, sauces, gravies, soups, casseroles and cookies
  • Enjoy whipped cream on your foods and beverages
  • Make creamed vegetables or pasta with cream sauce
  • Mix granola with your yogurt, ice cream or fruit
  • Enjoy croutons and bread stuffing
  • Drink homemade shakes or store-bought nutrition shakes for snacks

During Cancer Treatment, Healthy Nutrition Is Important

Arizona Center for Cancer Care provides more than 35 offices and 55 physicians across Maricopa County for your cancer treatment. Whether you live in the Northeast Valley, Southeast Valley or West Valley, you benefit from the best physicians, leading treatment technologies and most up-to-date research in the country, right near your home. Your cancer treatment professionals help you understand your nutritional needs after your cancer diagnosis and during treatment.