Living with cancer blog

Cancer-related fatigue: Nutrition and weight management

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. April 8, 2014

This is the second part of a wellness series for cancer survivors regarding the management of cancer-related fatigue.

As I mentioned last week, cancer-related fatigue is much different than everyday fatigue. Healthy habits can make a big difference in the way you feel. This week, let's talk about nutrition and weight management.

As you focus on nutrition and energy for your body, it's important to remember that good nutrition isn't complicated. Keep it simple:

  • Focus on plant-based foods.
  • Go for color with fruits and vegetables — add variety.
  • Look for fruits and vegetables that are fresh and in season.
  • Emphasize whole grains and legumes (beans, nuts, seeds).
  • Go easy on fat, salt, sugar, alcohol, and smoked and pickled foods.
  • Select low-fat milk products and small portions of lean meat, fish and poultry.
  • Maintain hydration with water.
  • The Mediterranean diet is a good model.
  • Moderation is key.
  • Discuss any vitamins or supplements with your health care provider.

A nutritious diet featuring fresh foods will help you manage fatigue.

When receiving chemotherapy or other therapies (anti-hormonal drugs, steroids, etc.) for cancer treatment, you may gain weight. Exercise can decrease this side effect.

Chemotherapy may also cause weight loss (due to lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting). If you're currently receiving cancer treatment, keep your focus on eating what tastes good and is healthy; don’t worry about being on a special weight loss diet.

Moderate exercise during treatment can help to increase your appetite and decrease nausea.

To maintain a healthy weight after treatment, keep these things in mind:

  • Focus on healthy habits — good nutrition, moderate exercise and adequate sleep.
  • Make a plan with a friend to exercise together.
  • Explore non-traditional exercise options such as yoga and tai chi.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

Exercise not only helps with weight loss, but also decreases your risk of other serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and bone and joint problems.

Share what has worked for you. How have you incorporated healthy nutrition and exercise habits into your daily routine?

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

Apr. 08, 2014