Why is Nutrition Important?
Nutrition plays an important role during your lymphoma treatment and recovery. Eating well can help you to:
- Prevent or reverse weight loss
- Keeps your body strong so you can better manage therapy related side-effects
- Help to fight infection
- Provide energy to speed recovery.
Will Treatments Affect My Eating?
Lymphoma treatments can sometimes lead to side effects that can affect your ability to eat. Because each person is unique, side effects can vary from person to person. Most side effects go away a few days or weeks after treatment ends.
If you do not experience any side effects during you treatment, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet.
Eating Well When You Have Lymphoma
People’s responses to food during their lymphoma experience vary widely. Some continue to enjoy eating and their appetite stays strong. Others find that just when they need to eat well, they feel unable to do so. Side effects or emotions like fear and anxiety can make eating more challenging. To help you eat well during difficult times, you might:
- Try to present your food in an attractive way on the plate to make it more appealing.
- Make mealtimes relaxed and pleasant. (Try music or soft lighting if this helps.)
- Experiment with different foods – some that didn’t taste good before might taste good now.
- Remind yourself that eating difficulties are temporary. Try to be patient and know that you will be able to eat with pleasure again – perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Try to make your food choices as balanced and varied as possible so that your body gets all the nutrients it needs. Weight loss is common in lymphoma patients, but weight gain is also possible. Many people with lymphoma, especially those who are losing weight or who have side effects that affect their ability to eat well, need to make changes to what they eat – perhaps by building up their diet with extra protein and calories.
How Can a Dietitian Help Me?
Dietitians help patients who are experiencing eating challenges during their lymphoma treatment such as:
- Poor appetite resulting in weight loss
- Difficulty with chewing and swallowing
- Changes in the way foods taste.
The dietitian can meet with you and your family/caregiver to:
- Determine your nutritional goals
- Provide practical suggestions to help meet your nutritional needs
- Provide follow-up care as needed through your treatment.
Some of the cancer centres provide group nutrition counselling classes for people who have nutrition questions related to their lymphoma.