by GEMMA CROTTY
The festive season is full of celebration, and this, of course, includes eating good food among family and friends.
But for cancer patients, there may be uncertainty when it comes to knowing what to eat during this time.
Although it doesn’t hurt to join in on the feasting, patients may want to consider ways they can look after their health while celebrating these holidays.
While undergoing cancer treatment, many patients get by on a normal, balanced diet. This may consist of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, beans, some fats, and lean protein. With this in mind, many Christmas dinners may already consist of nutritious foods that cancer patients can enjoy.
For example, patients can get their fill of protein from turkey, which is low in fat if consumed without the skin. Meanwhile, vegetables at the Christmas feast are full of nutritional value with pumpkin and sweet potato being a good source of beta-carotene, potassium and fibre. Furthermore, potatoes may also be enjoyed, containing vitamin C and potassium.
However, the nutritional value of these foods depends on how they are cooked. Therefore, the best way to gain benefits from them is to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat used to cook them. While these ingredients are fine in moderation, it’s best not to overdo them.
Christmas desserts are also fine to enjoy, but it’s a good idea to consider how you can balance out the dish- such as, for example, adding some fresh fruit to your plate.
However, sometimes cancer treatment or recovering from surgery can interfere with appetite, causing patients to feel less hungry or find it difficult to eat.
When at a family gathering, you shouldn’t feel pressured to eat a lot simply because others are, or because relatives tell you to. Likewise, don’t feel that you’re offending anyone by taking a small serving of food.
Additionally, another side effect of cancer and cancer treatment is that your immune system could be weakened. Due to this, it’s best to watch out for foods that could make you sick when your white blood cell count is down. For example, raw foods should be avoided- ensure that all food is cooked properly before consuming.
Finally, if you get sickness as a side effect of treatment, you should remember to bring your medication along to any event you might attend.
Gemma Crotty is a volunteer blog writer for Solaris Cancer Centre from her home in Melbourne. Currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Communication at La Trobe University, she is considering a career in communications or journalism. Gemma has a strong humanities research background from her Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Sydney. She has a keen passion for writing and likes to find new ways to hone her skills and connect to others through her words.