If you plan ahead for your treatment, you can save your time and strength by using delivery services, preplanned menus, and your friends' help with cooking and shopping. On days when you're feeling good, you may want to cook large portions of food that you can divide up and freeze. Then on days when you're not feeling so good, you can simply defrost something. Eat your largest meal that has the most nutrients whenever you feel the best and have the most energy during the day. You might end up having soup or a casserole for breakfast, but that's OK — it's best for your body.
Helpful suggestions from women who have gone through breast cancer treatment
- Make every bite count — choose nutrient-dense, but not calorie-dense, foods and beverages rather than empty calories. Vegetable lasagna or a salad is a much better choice than a bag of chips and a can of soda pop.
- Use a stool or chair so you can sit down while cooking food if you're tired.
- Keep foods handy that are quick and easy to prepare, such as washed baby carrots, individually packaged string cheese, or nuts and raisins. Small snacks between meals can help you eat enough protein and calories.
- Take a multivitamin if you can't eat enough food. Ask your doctor to recommend a multivitamin for you.
- Consider a liquid protein supplement if you're having trouble getting enough protein. Commercial products are available. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian for product recommendations and other eating tips.
- Check to see if you qualify for Meals on Wheels service. The American Cancer Society also offers information on meal delivery services. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 to learn about resources in your area.
- Talk to a registered dietitian and have your diet evaluated if you're not sure if your diet is balanced. Tell the dietitian that you're undergoing cancer treatment and want to make sure that your diet is the best it can be.
- Have groceries delivered. Consider ordering groceries online, or phoning or faxing in an order to a store that delivers.
- Try shopping at a farmer's market or outdoor stand if there's one near you. You might be better able to cope with food in the open air than in a store where smells are trapped inside.
- Buy in bulk. When you're feeling good, go shopping and buy several packages of food that will stay fresh so you don't have to go to the store as often.
- Ask for help taking the groceries out to the car and loading them. Most stores are happy to provide this service if you ask. Or ask a friend to go shopping with you and help you put the groceries away when you get home.
Tips to make it easy for people to help you
Don't be self-conscious about accepting offers of help from friends and family with cooking or shopping. And don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Your family and friends may not know what you need done, so tell them. They love you — when they can help you, they feel good! Here are some tips to make it easy for you, your family, and your friends:
- Keep a basic grocery list on hand so it's easy for someone else to go to the store for you.
- Write out menus for several meals (including recipes) that you like, so people who want to help have a guide.
- Keep a list of foods that appeal to you on your not-so-good days so your friends will know what you can tolerate the best.