Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

This Season think color


Think colors! When you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal, take a look around. What colors do you see? Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are pretty bland in color – white, beige, cream, and ivory tend to be the norm at most holiday tables.


This year, if you are the host, think about how you can make your dishes more naturally colorful. The easiest way to do this is by incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t the host, keep an eye out for color anyways. Aim for at least three different colors on your plate.

It is also important to watch your portions. Start first by choosing the foods you love. Not like, love. Then serve up your portions a little bit smaller than you normally would, odds are that you will still have plenty of food leftover if you need to go for seconds. Before grabbing extra servings though, be sure to give yourself sometime between plates to identify if you really need to eat more or simply want to eat more.


If you are hosting or cooking make simple substitutions to your menu and recipes. There are many ways to increase the health value of the foods you eat on Thanksgiving Day. From using more herbs and spices, to utilizing more fresh or frozen veggies, almost any dish can be made healthy.

Most guests will appreciate the effort that is if they notice. A few common recipe swaps include using applesauce or prunes in place of butter or margarine in baked goods, replacing heavy cream with evaporated milk or low-fat yogurt, and replacing those crunchy fried onions on top of green bean casserole with sliced almonds.

Eat your best and enjoy the day. It is possible to do both and your body will thank you for it. A healthy Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be complicated or full of saturated fat. Keep it simple and full of color. You’ll feel better after the meal and will start the holiday season off with a healthier perspective.


Holiday parties and the cancer survivor

I suggest stay well-nourished while enjoying the social aspect of eating. Food is an important part of how we celebrate and connect with others, especially during the holidays.

This time of year can be incredibly stressful for people who are not feeling well due to cancer or its treatment. Lot of people would like to spend time with their families and friends, but may be too tired or weak. They may feel pressured to continue festive traditions despite having low energy levels, especially if they have just finished treatment. Sometimes they’re expected to “bounce back” when treatment is over, but fatigue and other side effects can linger. Cancer survivors also worry that their lack of appetite, taste changes or nausea will make holiday gatherings a negative experience.

Here are tips to help you enjoy holiday parties.


Before The Party

Manage expectations

The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but don’t feel pressured to accept every invitation. Choose to attend the events that are most important to you. This will help you preserve your energy by balancing social gatherings with time alone to recharge.

Share the workload

If you’re usually the host of a holiday meal but are feeling tired or otherwise not up to it, think of ways that other family members or friends can share the workload. Suggest a potluck or ask if someone else can host this year. You can also start a new tradition and order food or go out to eat together.


Talk to the host

If you’re invited to a holiday gathering and are worried about feeling nauseous at dinner, talk to the host about it. Maybe you can join for dessert to avoid some of the cooking smells. The host may ask you what types of foods you would be comfortable eating. Don’t be afraid to let him or her know.

BYO (bring your own)

Bring some of the foods you are comfortable eating based on any side effects you are dealing with. If you aren’t comfortable asking your host what he or she will serve, this is a great way to make sure there will be something you can eat at the party.

Eat well before the party

Avoiding eating before a holiday meal, thinking this will improve appetite, tends to backfire because having an empty stomach makes nausea worse. Nibble on plain foods such as toast or crackers throughout the day. If you can, try to eat smaller meals every two hours to help keep nausea at bay.




By serving yourself, you can choose the foods that will help you manage your side effects. You can also choose smaller portions that you feel comfortable with.

Go plain

If you have a sensitive stomach, rich foods can make things worse. Choose plain foods that are baked or steamed with little added fat. Try some turkey with cranberry sauce instead of gravy, rice, baked potatoes or a dinner roll, and some plain vegetables. Again, talking to the host in advance to see what will be available and bringing your own side dishes will really help.

Baked and Steamed

Be safe

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and bone-marrow transplants weaken the immune system. If you’re immune-compromised, be careful about food safety, especially if the food is served buffet-style. Try to choose foods from the middle of the buffet or make your plate early to avoid germs.

Make sure hot foods are steaming hot and cold foods are on ice. It’s also a good idea to avoid high-risk foods like sushi, devilled eggs and homemade eggnog. If you aren’t sure how long foods have been sitting out, ask the chef or host. Or try foods like crackers, chips and salsa, nuts and cookies – these are safer bets because they can sit out longer.