Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

Mystery of steel-cut oatmeal

Despite its super-nutritious image, steel-cut oats are similar in nutrition to other forms of oatmeal that don’t contain added sugar or sodium. All forms of oatmeal are whole-grain, containing the same vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber, including the soluble fiber shown to lower blood cholesterol. Both steel-cut and rolled oats are relatively slow to raise blood sugar and therefore classified as low in glycemic index (GI). Traditional oatmeal is referred to as rolled oats, because the whole-grain oats are softened by steam and flattened on rollers to form flakes. Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scotch oatmeal, are oats cut by steel blades into small pieces without being flattened. Quick-cooking (one-minute) and instant oatmeal are steamed, cut and flattened in progressively smaller pieces to cook more quickly.


Most of these basic kinds of oatmeal differ mainly in cooking time and texture. Steel-cut takes longest to cook and has a heartier, chewier texture. Quick-cooking oatmeal is 100 percent oats and has zero sodium. A serving of instant oatmeal may seem lower in fiber than other forms when you check label information, but that’s only because a packet usually makes a smaller serving. Instant oatmeal does have added salt with one packet having about the same amount of sodium as in 20 potato chips, almost one-tenth of the most sodium you should have in one day. Moreover, many varieties of instant oatmeal contain almost three packets of added sugar (12 grams). A few varieties of flavored instant oatmeal use zero-calorie sweeteners instead of sugar, and some add gums or soy protein isolate to add additional fiber or protein. Make sure to check Nutrition Facts panel information at the store to see what’s in oatmeal so you can compare the added sugar and sodium among the options.

Most children and adults in the U.S. are getting less than the recommended amounts of whole grains and dietary fiber.

whole grains and dietary fiber

Researchers found people who did eat the recommended three or more servings of whole grains each day also tended to consume the most fiber.

Whole grains are present in some types of hot and cold cereal and bread. Previous studies have tied whole grain intake to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease among adults. The health benefits are in part attributed to the fiber in whole grains.


Eating fiber has been linked to better gut health, less heart disease and lower weights. Fiber is found in whole grains in varying quantities as well as in fruits, vegetables and beans.

Dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services say at least half of all grains consumed should be whole grains. That works out to a minimum of three one-ounce servings per day for adults.

Fiber recommendations vary by age. Young kids need 19 to 25 grams of fiber each day while older kids, teens and adults need anywhere from 21 to 38 grams per day.

Consumers can read labels and look for a special whole grain stamp when shopping.


Wondering About FODMAPs?

FODMAPS is a therapeutic eating plan that has been gaining ground as an effective protocol to help individuals who are suffering with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The quirky name FODMAPs stands for F= Fermentable, O=Oligo, D=Di, M=Monosaccharides, And Polyols. These are a family of carbohydrates and short-chain sugars that are more easily fermented in the digestive tract and most likely to contribute to gas, bloating, pain and other frustrating gut symptoms.

Research behind FODMAPs

It has been known for many decades that some foods may be more problematic than others with IBS. But more recently, scientists from Australia and the US have been working to track down FODMAPs as instigators of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Research is also being conducted on the benefits of FODMAPs in Crohn’s disease.

Total elimination of FODMAPs may not be necessary or realistic, but lessening the FODMAPs load may spell IBS relief. Begin by experimenting with a lighter load of the highest FODMAPs foods if you suffer from IBS. Keep a food journal to figure out if this is indeed comfort food for your digestive tract.

High FODMAPs Foods

Fruit: Apple, apricot, blackberries, cherries, coconut, nectarine, mango, pear, peach, plum, prune and watermelon; dried fruits and fruit juices


Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beetroot, button mushrooms, cabbage, cauliflower, chicory, garlic, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, radicchio, shallots and snow peas

Snow Peas Artichokes Fresh green vegetable, isolated over white

Beans/Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans and edamame (tofu is OK)

Lentils Chickpeas

Grains: Wheat (whole wheat and refined wheat products), rye, triticale


Dairy: Milk (cow, goat, sheep) and milk products, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, cheese (especially cottage and ricotta)

Ice Cream Flavors Yogurt isolated pitcher

Nut & Seeds: Not yet specifically analyzed by researchers, but recent suggestion is that peanuts are low in FODMAPs and it is OK to include 1 handful/day of nuts and seeds unless there is a known adverse reaction or an allergy to nuts.

Sweeteners: Agave nectar, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and HFCS based products (condiments, snacks, sodas, etc.); polyols/sugar alcohols including mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt found in sugar-free products such as gums, mints, cough drops and other medicines

Honey Honey cough-dropsChewing Gum

Alcohol: Sherry, port wine (Other alcoholic beverages are OK. However, total elimination is highly recommended during a therapeutic trial.)

sherry Port wine

Other: Food or supplements containing inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) such as coffee substitutes, energy bars, prebiotics, probiotics.

It’s a lot to handle, few foods left to eat, but if you have decided to go all the way please have some professional guidance, talk to a dietitian/nutritionist.

If you plan to follow this diet, here is a 1 day menu to give you some more insight.


1Cup Lactose free milk

Gluten-free cereal (cannot contain honey, apple juice, pear juice, agave, or high-fructose corn syrup)



Lactose-free yogurt

Cantaloupe and honeydew

Gluten-free rice cakes



Pork loin or center-cut pork chop (cooked)

Less than ½ C sweet potato

Lettuce, cucumber, and tomato salad with oil and vinegar dressing


Strawberry sorbet