Eating is essential to living. Calories from food supply the brain and body with energy. Protein keeps the muscles strong and fat provides energy and protects organs. Fluids, vitamins, and minerals allow the body to function at its best. Each person's unique caloric and nutritional needs may increase during times of growth, activity, stress and illness.
Head and neck cancer patients have specialized nutrition needs. The presence of a tumor may change the body's nutrition requirements and/or the way the body uses nutrients. These changes may also cause changes in appetite or eating patterns because of pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Proper nutrition during cancer treatment is important to maximize functional status and quality of life. Research has suggested that patients who are malnourished and experience weight loss have a greater risk of hospitalizations, increased treatment side effects, and reduced quality of life. Maintaining an adequate intake will help prevent these negative effects of cancer treatment.
Nutrition Goals during Treatment
Goal 1: Consume adequate calories to maintain body weight.
Goal 2: Choose high protein foods such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish, cheese, beans and nuts.
Goal 3: Add snacks in between meals if needed to increase calorie intake.
Goal 4: Choose commercial liquid supplements, shakes, or smoothies as a meal replacement or snack.
Goal 5: Meet daily fluid needs - about 60-70 ounces each day.
If you cannot meet these recommendations or have further questions, please contact me for a personalized nutrition evaluation and consultation.
Keri Ryniak, Oncology Dietitian at 443-849-8186.