Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Eating well, exercising and managing stress are ways to promote your overall health and cope with cancer and treatment.

Eat well

Good nutrition during cancer treatment can help you keep up your stamina and your ability to cope with the side effects of treatments. But eating well can be difficult if your treatment includes chemotherapy or radiation therapy. For times when you don't feel well, try these strategies:

  • Eat protein-rich foods. Foods high in protein can help build and repair body tissues. Choices include eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, poultry and fish. Kidney beans, chickpeas and black-eyed peas also are good sources of protein, especially when combined with rice, corn or bread.
  • Keep an open mind about the foods you eat. Something that doesn't appeal today might taste better tomorrow or next week.
  • When you do feel well, make the most of it. Eat as many healthy foods as you can. Prepare meals that you can easily freeze and reheat. Also look for low-fat frozen dinners and other prepared foods.
  • Eat smaller amounts of food more frequently. If you can't face the thought of a large meal, try eating small amounts of food more often. Keep fruits and vegetables handy for snacking.

Stay active

Regular physical activity can help relieve anxiety and depression, improve your mood, and reduce signs and symptoms of fatigue, nausea, pain and diarrhea. The activity doesn't have to be strenuous — moderate activities such as walking, biking, swimming and yardwork bring benefits. A little bit of physical movement is better than none.

Manage stress

Methods for reducing muscle tension can help you manage stress. One simple and powerful technique is to close your eyes and notice your breathing. Pay attention to each inhalation and exhalation. Your breathing will become slower and deeper, promoting relaxation. Another technique is to lie down, close your eyes and mentally scan your entire body for any points of tension.

In addition, activities that require repetitive movement, such as swimming, can produce a mental state similar to that achieved with meditation. The same is true of yoga and other stretching exercises.

May. 24, 2011