Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

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Special Diets during Holidays

People with allergies like nuts and gluten.

When you set out to meet family and friends for Thanksgiving, you can take nut-free chocolate, gluten-free banana bread and containers of stuffing – a nut-free and or a gluten-free version.

This can be a challenge but you can coordinate with your hosts and take some foods that you are certain are allergen free so you or your children can enjoy and be a part of this family celebration.

One in six parents has a teenager who has tried either a vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan or paleo diet within the last two years.

Among those parents whose children followed restricted diets, over half said they thought the diets had a positive impact on their child’s health, while 41 percent believed it had no health impact, and 7 percent thought it was bad for the child’s health.

The poll found that the vegetarian diet was the most popular: 9 percent of teenagers nearly one in 10 had tried it. Six percent had tried a gluten-free diet, 4 percent a vegan diet and 2 percent a paleo diet.

But while 11 percent of parents forbade their child to embark on a special diet, only 17 percent had asked a nutrition expert for advice. Please consult a professional before embarking on a new diet, not only to make sure the child will get all the nutrients needed, but also to discuss the child’s motivations and help screen anyone with an underlying eating disorder whose real motivation is losing weight.

The survey found that teenagers’ reasons for starting restrictive diets varied.

Each diet presents its own set of potential nutritional pitfalls. Vegans need to make sure they get enough protein as well as vitamin B12, iron, calcium and vitamin D, while those following a paleo diet, and may need vitamin D and fiber. And everyone needs to get sufficient calories.

Special diets can be a source of tension during the holidays, the survey found, and over half of parents whose teenagers follow special diets said the diets caused conflict at family gatherings. The teenagers don’t like to be belittled for something that, for them, is a serious choice, and the parents feel judged based on what their kids do.

Developing a strategy in advance may help teenagers feel their choices are respected, and minimize disruption. Teenagers who adopt a special diet are often exploring their identity and declaring their independence, and parents can take advantage of family get-togethers to demonstrate their support for their child’s choices, and carry the food with them that is acceptable to their child.

Most people respect if you are allergic to something but do not feel compelled to accommodate optional choices like being a vegan or a vegetarian.

But keep in mind that rejecting someone’s signature dish may appear insensitive or downright rude. Tensions may be eased if family members are informed of the child’s dietary preference in advance or if a child is willing to compromise and taste a small portion.


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Your Thanksgiving table

Five recipes with cancer-fighting foods



These bright red gems contain vitamin C, dietary fiber and anthocyanins, compounds well-studied for their cancer-fighting properties.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup dried, sweetened cherries
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries or frozen, unsweetened if fresh not available
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves


In small bowl, soak cherries in cider for 30 to 60 minutes.

In heavy, large saucepan, combine cranberries, cherries with soaking liquid, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, until cranberries pop and soften, but are not mushy, about 15 minutes. If using frozen cranberries, berries may not pop but they will soften; do not let them collapse completely. Spoon hot sauce into decorative serving bowl or other container and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate cooled sauce for 8 hours to allow flavors to meld. Spiced Cranberry Sauce keeps up to 3 days, tightly covered in refrigerator.

Makes 2 cups, 8 servings (1/4 cup per serving).

Per serving: 74 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 19 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium

Sweet potatoes:

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes with their orange flesh are packed with beta-carotene, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties that may inhibit cancer cell growth and improve immune response. The brighter the orange color of the flesh, the more beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes also are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Sweet Potato Wedges with Rosemary

Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary

  • 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise in 8 wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, and a few sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive or canola oil
  • Salt


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place wedges in large bowl. Add rosemary, garlic powder, mustard and oil. Toss to coat well. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet, making sure not to overlap potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. Turn wedges over and bake 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft and beginning to brown.

Lightly season to taste with salt. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 146 calories, 7 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrate,
2 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 54 mg sodium.

Green beans:

Green Beans

Cooked green beans contain 4 grams of cancer-preventive fiber per cup, plus some vitamin A and potassium. This casserole dish also features mushrooms, which contain the mineral selenium and compounds called ergosterols; both substances may help to reduce cancer risk.

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

green beans and mushroom casserole

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, or frozen green beans
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. rice or all-purpose wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat 11-inch x 7-inch (2 quart) baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In large pot of boiling water, cook green beans until almost tender, 5 minutes. Drain in colander, and then transfer beans to bowl of ice water. When beans are cool, drain well and spread in prepared baking dish.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until browned, 8 minutes, stirring often. Scoop onion into small bowl, add panko, and mix with fork to combine well. Set topping aside.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they look wet, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic and cook until mushrooms are tender, 5 minutes, stirring often. Add mushroom mixture to green beans.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Sprinkle flour over oil and cook, using a wooden spoon to stir and scrape mushroom and garlic bits from bottom of pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, lowering heat as needed to prevent flour from browning. Pour in milk while stirring vigorously. When sauce boils, reduce heat and simmer until spoon leaves a wide path and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon well, 5-7 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and add cayenne pepper Add sauce to vegetables, and stir to combine. Then spread in an even layer.

Sprinkle topping over casserole and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until topping is crunchy and mostly golden brown. Let casserole sit 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 210 calories, 8 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate,
7 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 95 mg sodium.

Whole grains (Bread) :

Whole grains Bread

All whole grains contain fiber. There are several ways fiber may lower risk, including promoting healthful bacteria growth. Whole grains may also help with weight control; excess body fat increases the risk of eleven cancers.

  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  •  1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups water (start with the smaller amount)
  •  3 Tbsp. canola oil
  •  2 Tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed, or 2 Tbsp. honey may be substituted
  •    1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/4 tsp. salt
  •  3/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped or crushed


1.In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until dough starts to leave sides of bowl.

2.Transfer dough to lightly greased or floured surface. Knead 6 to 8 minutes or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead dough in electric mixer or food processor or bread machine set to “dough.”)

3.Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl. Cover bowl and allow dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

4.Transfer dough to a lightly oiled work surface and shape into 8-inch log. Tuck ends under as you place log in lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 90 minutes until domed about 1-inch above edge of pan. A finger pressed into dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

5.Bake bread in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Test for doneness by removing from pan and thumping on bottom it should sound hollow. Or measure interior temperature with an instant read thermometer that should read 190 degrees at center of loaf.

6.When done, remove bread from pan and cool on wire rack before slicing. Store in plastic bag at room temperature.

Makes 16 slices.

Per serving: 150 calories, 7 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 180 mg sodium.



High in fiber, particularly pectin fiber, apples help gut bacteria produce compounds to protect colon cells. Apples also are rich in the phytochemicals quercetin and epicatechin, which researchers are studying for their role in cancer protection.

Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins

Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples or any variety baking apple
  • 3 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup apple cider


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray oven-proof glass pie dish.

Cut apples in half from top to bottom, core and peel. Lay halves flat and cut into medium slices. Place apple slices in large bowl.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture on apples and gently stir until apples are evenly coated with spices. Gently fold in walnuts and raisins.

Spoon apple mixture into prepared pie dish. Drizzle cider evenly over top.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Using spatula, carefully turn over apple mixture to get caramelized sauce from bottom of dish. Serve hot or let cool to room temperature, refrigerate and serve cold later.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 151 calories, 3.5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat),
31 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium.