Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3 Tips for Eating during Chemotherapy

Well, what can I actually eat during chemotherapy? The answer is nothing and everything. Nothing usually won out with me, because absolutely everything made me sick. 

Chemotherapy is a carbohydrate addict's sick dream - all I could stomach was carbs. Potatoes, noodles, rice, white bread, saltines. You see where I'm going with this? 

Oh sure, you will hear the tales of Chemo Carrie, who only ate fresh, raw veggies from her own organic garden and/or juiced her way through chemo, whilst running a business, family of four and writing a memoir of her cancer journey. This woman is not your friend right now. And also, for the record, I do not believe she exists. If she does, she can fuck off. 

Because the truth is, everyone in my support group had a difficult time in chemo with food. Most women do. 

Despite being medicated with conventional medicines (4 kinds of rx) and non-traditional therapies, I could not eat much and was nauseated for months. What I was able to get down was bland, processed and bad for me. Still, it beats the compounded issued associated with eating nothing at all. 

Tips for Chemo Eating:

1.  Now is not the time to rehaul your diet.   Yeah, I know you think that your eating got you into this fine mess, and that may or may not be somewhat true. However, you will have a looooong time after chemo to fix it, that is why you are doing this, right?  So eat whatever appeals  to you. If you are able to eat the healthy plant based diet, that's great!  Don't count on it though. 

2. If you have to eat processed, get the best quality you can afford.  Buy the canned soup without so many fillers and salt. Eat veggie pasta. Get organic fruits and veggies pre-cut so you need not handle it as much. Buy chemical free and organic whenever possible. What, you can only drink milkshakes?  Fine -- organic milk or almond milk, natural honey and nuts, etc. 

3.  Most important-do not eat anything that will contribute to bowel issues.  I know you love spicy food, like me! A most violent and painful parting it was.  Just. Don't. Do. It.  I am sorry, but dairy, spicy, and beans are out of your life for a few months. You will thank me later. 

BONUS TIP:  If you have any perfume, lotion, soap or item that you love the scent of, do not use it during chemo. Smell is a wonderful and horrible thing - it has strong associations to moments in time and you can be transported back to chemo just from a whiff of anything you smelled during it. This is also true for food - even thinking about the eggs at the hospital makes me feel like hurling now. I had to give away my former favorite body lotion-it makes me dry heave. Put those favorites away for now, and come back to them after you are somewhat more whole.