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The Importance of Nutrition After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

The Importance of Nutrition After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Nutrition is a very important part of a breast cancer diagnosis journey. Healthy eating should be incorporated before, during and after cancer treatment to increase recovery. Nutrition during a cancer diagnosis can also be overwhelming with the internet, social media and recommendations from friends and family. Common questions and potential myths: Should I avoid all carbohydrates? Do I need to limit fat? Should I lose weight if I am overweight? What is the benefit of a plant based diet?

Nutritional needs should be met primarily through consuming food, not supplements, because whole foods provide a variety of other components that are considered beneficial to health. Age, gender, family history, and current health condition play a role in determining which foods we should eat more of and foods to avoid. Understanding the nutritional content of foods is essential to making informed choices when building an eating plan.

  • Cook a new recipe or adapt an old one each week.
  • Fill half your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal.
  • Try whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley.
  • Consume healthy lean protein sources.
  • Limit foods with added sugars and salt.
  • Limit sweetened beverages.
  • Stay within your calorie needs when increasing healthier foods.
  • Eat a healthy balance between proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and grains.

Your journey is unique to you and your type of breast cancer treatment. Side effects vary from every individual based on treatment which cause different nutrition needs. A Registered dietitian can work with your preferences and routine to provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet a lifestyle based eating plan.

Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LD leads the nutritional services team at NCI designated Winship Cancer Institue at Emory University. She provides personalized nutrition advice to patients who are undergoing cancer treatment. Learn more about Emily H. Huskey, RD, LD  and Michelle Godwin, RDN, LD and register to join this month's conversations*. The support groups are free to join, but registration is required.