Most cancer patients lose weight because they do not eat as much as their body needs during treatment to rebuild normal tissue because of tumor, the effects of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. When you eat less, your body uses its own stored fat, protein, and other nutrients for energy. Not enough food intake and nutrition intake may cause these problems:
- Loss of lean muscle mass
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Delayed wound healing
- Lowered tolerance to therapy
- Fatigue and lack of energy
Therefore, you will need to evaluate or have your intake evaluated by a dietitian to determine the adequacy of your calorie, protein, and nutrient intake.
Bloating/Fullness and Weight Loss
Discomfort from bloating or fullness after meals is common during cancer therapy, and is usually caused by:
- Decreased exercise
- Gulping air while eating
- Eating gas-producing foods (cabbage, beans or onions, etc.) or high fat foods
- Slowed movement of food through the G.I. tract due to gastric surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or medications
The discomfort from these feelings often causes you to reduce your food intake and results in weight loss and muscle wasting. Since adequate nutrition plays such an important role in your treatment and healing process, you are encouraged to do whatever you can to control these feelings.
Tips for Reducing Bloating/Fullness
- Chew foods more slowly to avoid becoming too full too quickly.
- Eat small frequent meals. Try 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 large meals. Attempt to eat every 2 to 3 hours if possible.
- Avoid high fat foods (e.g., deep fat fried foods, oils, butter, shortening) and foods that cause gas formation.
- Avoid or limit high fiber fruits and vegetables, corn and bran cereals.
- Drink less during the meal. Drink 30-45 minutes before or after eating.
- Avoid carbonated beverages (gas producing) and chewing gum (stimulates the stomach). Try ginger tea as an additional remedy for gastric stimulation.
- Stop eating when you feel uncomfortable. Take a walk to increase circulation and to help release any gas.