Tackling Nutrition and Overall Health: Strategies for Staying Strong and Healthy

Many people living with cancer may experience nutritional difficulties during the course of their cancer treatment. That’s why it’s important to consider working with a registered dietitian to help with specific nutritional needs.

Why Nutrition Matters

Balancing your diet can be a challenge at the best of times, but when going through a cancer journey it is even more important. The right balance of proteins and calories can help your body stay strong and healthy — before, during, and after cancer treatment.

Watch for key changes in:

  • Body weight
  • Muscle mass
  • Calorie intake

Eating in a healthful manner may help keep your strength up through a treatment course, provide more energy to spend time with family and friends, and be productive at work.

Getting Nutrition Advice

There are experts who can offer you nutrition advice. Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts who have studied how diet and dietary supplements affect your health. Some registered dietitians also have additional training in oncology nutrition. A registered dietitian who has a “CSO” after his or her name is a certified specialist in oncology nutrition. This means that he or she has a minimum of 2,000 clinical hours working in oncology and has passed a national certification exam.

Registered dietitians (RD or RDN, CSO after their name) can:

  • Provide personally tailored advice to help manage the unique nutritional aspects of chronic disease.
  • Plan food and nutrition programs and promote healthful eating habits.
  • Work in food service or as part of medical teams in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.
  • Work in university settings, where they may teach, do research, or focus on public health issues.

What to expect when meeting with a registered dietitian

During an appointment with a registered dietitian, she/he will:

  • Try to uncover any nutrition-related issues and ask about your diet history, medical history, medications, allergies, and nutrition-related symptoms. Questions about your height, weight, and other things that may impact your ability to eat and absorb nutrients will also be asked.
  • Design a meal plan and provide nutrition recommendations specific to your needs.
  • Encourage you to keep a diary of your symptoms or of the foods that you eat.

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