Eating Healthy After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
We’ve been told all our lives to eat healthy, but this takes on a whole new meaning after a cancer diagnosis. Whether you’re in active treatment or finished, nutritious food plays a big role in helping you feel healthy, strong and in control of your body.
Nutrition During Breast Cancer Treatment
If you’re currently in treatment, you may find that your appetite changes from day to day. Everyone tells you to eat one thing or another to help you stay strong, but some days you just don’t feel like it. Here are a few tips to get you through:
- Find a nutritionist. Many cancer centers and healthcare facilities have registered dietitians onsite who specialize in nutrition after a cancer diagnosis. Ask your oncologist for a referral or check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to find a local expert in oncology nutrition. They are trained to help you develop a nutrition plan specific to your individual needs and goals.
- Listen to your body. If you are feeling specific side effects from treatment that are impacting your appetite or weight, tell your doctor or dietitian. They can recommend foods that alleviate symptoms.
- Try new foods. Organizations like Cook for Your Life provide hundreds of recipes that cater to your specific needs after a breast cancer diagnosis.
- Move around when you can. Even if you don’t feel up to your old exercise routine, moving your body is important. Whether it’s a short walk or a gentle yoga session, it will make you feel stronger.
Nutrition After Treatment
If you’re post-treatment, you can help alleviate long-term side effects with healthy foods. We suggest you:
- Continue to see a qualified nutritionist or seek one out.
- Check in with your oncologist. Tell him/her how you’re feeling at your checkups. There may be foods or dietary changes you can make that will help alleviate ongoing side effects.
- Learn about the health benefits of different foods and nutritional guidelines for healthy living after cancer.
- Explore ways to maintain a healthy weight.
Healthy Foods at Any Stage
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or not, it is recommended that all adults consume a balanced diet. It’s not just about cancer but about feeling good and keeping your heart and body healthy, too.
General recommendations include:
- Focus on plant-based food. Animal products should take up ⅓ or less space on your plate.
- Choose lean fish and poultry, and limit your intake of red meat. Avoid processed meats.
- Aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, high fiber foods like whole grains and foods that are low in salt, fat and sugar.
- Limit your alcohol intake and drink lots of water.