by Chung So
What should patients eat during and after cancer treatment? Are multivitamins and herbal supplements safe to consume? How should patients manage the unpleasant side effects involving food while undergoing therapy?
These were among the many questions at “I Can Cope,” a nutritional well-being program held Dec. 13 at City of Hope. Attended by about 75 patients, family members and caregivers, the free session was hosted by City of Hope and the American Cancer Society (ACS).
“When undergoing cancer therapies, many patients experience side effects that make it difficult for them to eat, including fatigue, nausea, dry mouth and sores,” said dietetic intern Adern Yu, M.P.H. “However, this is also the time when the body needs extra calories and nutrients to help heal and repair itself, so it is important that patients eat enough every day for wellness and speedy recovery.”
Yu and clinical dietitian Denise Ackerman, R.D., presented ways to tackle these side effects and eat well, such as incorporating juices and rich sauces to increase caloric intake, and eating smaller, more frequent meals to reduce nausea and fatigue.
Among its many tips, the ACS suggests that cancer patients choose a diet with a variety of plant-based foods, and that patients try substituting for meat at some meals each week. Trying to eat at least five colorful servings a day of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables, may help, because they contain natural health-promoting substances called phytochemicals.
ACS experts also encourage patients to reduce high-fat foods, especially those from animal sources, and opt for lower-fat milk and dairy products. More tips are available at www.cancer.org.
During the program, Ackerman and Yu answered questions from the audience and provided samples of high-calorie, high-protein drinks. Chrissy Kim, director of health programs in the San Gabriel Valley chapter of ACS, also spoke and drew door prizes for participants.
Organizers will put on another nutritional seminar next month. Clinical dietitian Dhvani Bhatt, R.D., will give the presentation, scheduled for 2:30 to 4 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Y9 conference room. Guests are asked to reserve a space with Lina Mayorga through e-mail at email@example.com or 626-259-4673, ext. 64053.