If you’re recovering from surgery, receiving chemotherapy or radiation, or having other breast cancer treatment, your main focus is on getting rid of the cancer. Eating well will help you stay strong by giving your body the nutrients it needs.
You and your doctor can’t predict exactly how your treatment will affect you. Your general health and weight before your diagnosis play a role. So do the type, amount, and length of treatment you are receiving. As you move through your treatment, listen to your body and respond to what it needs.
You may continue to enjoy cooking and eating and have a normal appetite. Or you might have days when you don’t feel like eating anything, days when you want to eat everything, and times when only some things taste good. It’s best to have a flexible, healthy eating plan to help you deal with your body’s changing needs and wants.
A healthy diet—one with a variety of foods that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and regular protein—gives you the reserves of nutrients you need to keep your strength up while you’re fighting breast cancer. These reserves also help rebuild your body’s tissues and keep your immune system strong to help fight off infection. Plus, a healthy diet can help you cope with treatment side effects. There is evidence that some cancer treatments actually work better in people who are eating enough calories and protein. While you’re having breast cancer treatment, it’s more important than ever that you eat a healthy diet.
For more on nutrition while you’re undergoing treatment, go to breastcancer.org.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. is the founder of breastcancer.org and the co-author of Taking Care of Your “Girls”: A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens (Three Rivers Press, 2008).
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