Nutrition Tips for Stage 4 Cancer

People with stage 4 cancer often face nutritional challenges. The American Cancer Society suggests thinking of food as a part of your overall treatment. Good nutrition can boost your immune system and give you the energy your body needs to cope with the effects of your illness.

A large bowl of mixed nuts. (Image: graletta/iStock/Getty Images)

Improve Your Poor Appetite

Many individuals with stage 4 cancer suffer from a poor appetite, due to chemotherapy or poor general health. When dealing with an appetite problem, it can be helpful to eat your favorite foods. Eat small meals and avoid cooking smells whenever possible. Ask that food containers be opened in another room and allowed to sit for a minute before they are brought to you. Drink calorie-rich beverages if you are severely underweight, such as milkshakes. Tell anyone cooking for you if cold, hot or room temperature food sounds best to you. Strive to eat several small meals each day, recommends the Cancer Information Center.

Work Around Physical Problems

If you are undergoing chemotherapy, you may have sores in your mouth or throat, making eating uncomfortable. You may also suffer from diarrhea, stomachache or other gastrointestinal difficulties. If it hurts to chew or swallow, discuss this with your physician as he may be able to give you something that can lessen the pain long enough for you to eat. Eat bland foods that don't require a lot of chewing. Avoid spices, canned tomatoes, onions and other foods that can burn your mouth. Eat room temperature or cold foods, whichever feels best. Ask your physician if you should take a fiber supplement.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Unless directed otherwise, maintain a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, eggs, nuts, dairy, fish, chicken and healthy oils. A healthy diet may help your body heal and ward off nutritional deficiencies. If eating a well-balanced diet is impossible, consider supplementing your diet with nutrition shakes designed for this purpose.

Make Mealtime Relaxing

You may find that you are able to eat better if you keep your mealtimes relaxing. Ask family members not to talk about stressful topics while you eat. Discuss pleasant memories or current events instead. If you are eating alone, read an interesting book or watch an engaging or funny television show while you eat. You may wish to eat in a room that doesn't contain medical equipment, smells or noises.

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