Nutritional Support

Good nutrition through a healthy diet is important for everyone, but especially those with cancer diagnosis.

woman-shopping-in-produce-871227828.jpgThe cancer, your treatments and the recovery required can each make it difficult to follow your normal eating habits. Eating and drinking the right foods and liquids during and after cancer treatment can help keep your strength up, prevent infections, and repair and rebuild damaged tissue. When you can maintain your weight and stay well-nourished, you have a better quality of life during treatment, can tolerate higher dosages of certain treatments and experience less fatigue.

About Nutrition and Cancer Treatment

Cancer cell growth can change the way your body uses nutrients, and sometimes increases the amount of nutrients your body needs. Levels of protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins, minerals, water and electrolytes are all very important when you're undergoing cancer treatment. Our nutrition team makes sure you're getting everything you need.

Some of the common problems cancer patients encounter with nutrition include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Painful mouth and throat
  • Nausea /Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Taste changes or no taste
  • Sensitivities to smell and food temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Problems chewing
  • Digesting certain foods
  • Weight loss or weight gain

We help you and your family by making sure you have the most current nutrition information you need, personalized to your particular needs and concerns. The Department of Food and Nutrition Services Dietitians are Master's prepared and certified nutritionists/dietitians with the State of Connecticut.

Registered Dietitian Services

Our Registered Dietitians are here to help you cope with any eating problems as they arise.

They can:

  • Design individual eating plans depending on your needs
  • Provide easy-to-follow written materials to help deal with treatment side effects and special dietary needs
  • Work with your healthcare team to ensure continuity of care
  • Help you understand the benefits of nutritional supplements, and find the ones that you can tolerate to meet your individual nutritional needs. We'll also help you obtain the supplements you need.
  • Guide and advise you on optimal amounts of vitamins, minerals, and herbs during treatment
  • Advise you on food safety if your blood counts are down
  • Give you nutritional information for cancer recovery

Food Safety

Food safety is especially important during cancer treatment. High dosages of chemotherapy and radiation can reduce white blood cell counts, which lessens the ability to fight infection. Patients should be very careful and follow general food safety guidelines.

General Food Safety Guidelines:

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water before and after preparing each food item, and before eating
  • Keep food counters and utensils clean. Wash counters and food preparation areas with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat preparation, cooked meat,vegetables and fruit preparation
  • Replace sponges at least once a week. Wash daily in dishwasher or with a bleach solution
  • Be sure refrigerator is 34° F to 40° F
  • Refrigerate leftover foods within 2 hours of cooking in small shallow containers
  • Throw out leftovers that have been opened or used after 3 days When in doubt throw it out!
  • Use a meat thermometer to be sure meat 165 ° F and poultry 180° F are cooked to the proper temperature
  • Do not eat raw eggs or fish
  • Bring sauces, gravies, and soups to a rolling boil
  • Avoid salad bars, deli’s and buffets
  • Do not eat foods that are out of date
  • Do not use cans that are dented, swollen or leaking
  • Avoid tofu sold in open bins
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold

Cancer Institute Support Services

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute