Radiation therapy can have intense effects on the body, including the appetite. Often, your appetite is diminished, but a reasonable caloric intake is still important for your body to heal properly. Knowing which foods can provide the most nutrition without stimulating nausea or diarrhea can help you make healthy food choices following radiation. Hospitals often have a registered dietitian available to help you create a diet plan, and it is recommended that you talk with your doctor about the best foods for you to consume after treatment.
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When dealing with the nausea that may occur after radiation treatment, consuming low-fiber foods is a good option. This is because low-fiber foods are better for digestion, according to Dr. Alan Lyss in his book, "Chemotherapy and Radiation For Dummies." Examples of good low-fiber foods include white rice, noodles, mashed or baked potatoes, fish and skinless chicken or turkey. Lyss recommends staying away from whole-grain breads, cereal, beans, nuts, seeds, popcorn and raw vegetables due to their high fiber content.
Foods High in Potassium
Due to both nausea and diarrhea that can occur after radiation treatments, foods that replenish lost potassium are another smart option. Lyss notes bananas, oranges and potatoes are great foods full of potassium, and are also easy to digest. Also, you can drink juices high in potassium, such as peach and apricot nectars, if you don't feel up to eating.
Getting Enough Calories
Getting enough calories after radiation can be hard due to appetite loss, but it is important. In her book, "Living with Cancer," Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer recommends eating smaller meals rather than large ones and eating whenever you are hungry. Adding butter to meals increases your calorie intake, as does drinking milkshakes, if you can tolerate them. Dreyer also adds that drinking prepared liquid supplements between meals can make up some of the calories and nutrients lost.
After radiation, increase your fluid consumption as much as possible, Dr. Ernest Rosenbaum relates in his book, "Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy." In addition to water, low-salt broth, herbal teas, juices, soups and ice pops can help you stay hydrated. Broths, juices and smoothies also help to replenish your calorie and nutrient levels.
- "Chemotherapy and Radiation For Dummies"; Alan P. Lyss, MD; 2011
- "Living with Cancer"; ZoAnn Dreyer, MD; 2007
- "Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy"; Ernest Rosenbaum, MD; 2008