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Enhancing Your Strength and Wellness Through Nutrition

Too much sugary food adds excess pounds and health risks. Learn how to reduce your consumption.

Michael P. Sherman, M.D., Ph.D.

Enhancing Your Strength and Wellness through Nutrition

We live in a fast food nation where time is sparse and the average budget is stretched thin, which can often make it difficult to fit good nutrition in to your life. While this can be a daunting task, it is the essential first step in increasing your wellness and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

For individuals that are about to begin treatment, maintaining proper nourishment becomes even more critical as your body begins to react to stress, the cancer, and the treatment itself.

Knowing where to begin and what changes to make can be overwhelming, but as Kristi Machon, Contra Costa Oncology’s Certified Diet Counselor (CDC), suggests, “rather than attempting to make a complete overhaul in your eating habits, I recommend that patients start by making small improvements in their food choices.”  For example, rather than grabbing a morning pastry, instead try preparing oatmeal, naturally sweetened with molasses and topped with walnuts and raisins. 

Starting with these small dietary changes earlier rather than later is a great first step. “Because the body is put under a high level of stress during treatment, pre-treatment nutrition is essential in ensuring your body is receiving the correct minerals and vitamins to provide you with added strength prior to starting treatment,” says Dr. Michael P. Sherman, Founder and Director of Contra Costa Oncology.

Involving family and friends can also help make the process easier and provide an added source of support.  Similar to a New Year’s resolution, make a family pledge to choose healthier meal and snack options. Create a plan by visiting resourceful websites like the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov. Try to also include healthy activities in your plan that are budget-friendly too, like shopping for naturally and organically grown foods at a farmer’s market.

Machon also encourages patients to “develop a network of family and friends who can assist in nutritious meal preparation or take turns bringing you healthy, ready-to-eat meals. Having these meals on hand can help you avoid turning to quick, processed meals, which are often high in fat and lack nutrients.”

Once your treatment begins, a side effect you may experience that can make nutrition even more difficult is a loss of appetite.  If you begin to feel like you are rarely hungry, try eating according to a schedule. You may also find it easier to eat small amounts several times each day instead of three large meals.

If you continue to experience difficulty eating, try adding a protein powder to your diet.  Simply blend protein powder and plant milk or dairy with fruits like bananas for an easy, yet satisfying meal replacement.

“While you may not necessarily feel like eating,” Dr. Sherman cautions, “it's important to do what you can to maintain your calorie and particularly fluid intake during treatment to limit added fatigue and weight loss. Proper hydration is key because it helps the body excrete toxins, helping you feel better from the inside out.”

As you complete your treatment and begin to regain your appetite, enjoy your favorite foods, but remember to do so in moderation, reserving decadent treats like cake for special occasions.  Now more than ever, it’s important to continue eating with your newfound healthy habits to help you regain your strength, rebuild tissue, and feel better overall.

Because there are endless approaches to the dietary process, it’s important to discuss the options with your doctor or dietician. Programs like Contra Costa Oncology’s nutritional counseling can also provide beneficial education, such as instruction on label reading, as well as services like pantry evaluation. With the help of your doctor and a CDC you can develop a personalized nutrition program and begin your path to a renewed wellness.

With offices located in Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Concord, Rossmoor and a new full-service office recently opened in the Danville Crow Canyon Medical Center, Contra Costa Oncology specializes in comprehensive cutting-edge treatment programs for all forms of cancer and blood disorders. Their highly-trained, board-certified physicians and oncology nurse practioners ensure the most sophisticated level of medical oncology and hematology care, while providing our patients with the utmost support, compassion, and respect. For additional information visit ContraCostaOncology.com

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