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Cancer is a wasting disease. With colon cancer, as with other cancers, it is not uncommon for patients to lose weight. The reason for this is often a lack of appetite or disgust for many foods, especially during chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The creeping malnutrition weakens the already stressed body, which in turn leads to fatigue and loss of appetite; a threatening vicious circle. Therefore, watch your weight during cancer therapy and eat as best you can despite the symptoms. In such phases, anything that you like and what you want is allowed.
Check your weight regularly
Although a cancer tumor can only be found in certain places, in certain organs, its presence alters the entire metabolism of the body. Under the influence of signaling and messenger substances that the cancer cells themselves produce, fat stores are broken down, muscle protein is consumed and the body’s energy needs are boosted. It becomes more difficult for the patient to compensate for the loss of energy with food. In particular, when symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea are added, every meal that you as a patient can successfully eat counts.
Weight loss does not have to be dangerous in every case, but try to maintain your weight as much as possible during cancer treatment. If you lose too much substance, you feel weak and weak, and your general well-being suffers. Weigh yourself regularly and record your weight in a small journal. The body mass index provides another clue. It is calculated using the formula:
Body mass index (BMI) = body weight (kg): body size² (m²)
The result should not fall below a value of 20, a BMI below 18.5 already means underweight. In addition, the doctor treating you will regularly check your physical condition and constitution during the treatment. To do this, he can estimate the body fat content with the help of skin fold measurements on the upper arm and hip.
Provide plenty of calories with a fatty diet
To maintain your body weight, you should eat as high as possible calories during debilitating cancer therapy. Try out which foods you get, what kind of preparation they like and what time you prefer to eat – everyone has slightly different preferences. In contrast to nutrition for healthy people, fat is the best source of energy for cancer patients. Above all, animal fats can now be used by the body cells, for example from butter or cream. However, your fat digestion can be disturbed due to the disease. Long-chain fatty acids in particular can then only be absorbed poorly by the intestine. Products with predominantly medium-chain fatty acids, so-called MCT fats (MCT = medium-chain triglycerides), are ideal. They get into the body without problems and are easy to use. To get enough protein, stick to soy tofu, dairy products, or legumes, for example; they are particularly rich in protein.
Of course, it sales beneficial to maintain a varied diet during cancer treatment. Your body now benefits, particularly from vitamins, minerals, and secondary plant substances. However, it is even more important that you consume enough energy and calories. If you have problems with fruit, vegetables, or whole grains, it is better to eat what you feel like eating now.
Despite everything, if you lose weight, talk to your doctor about it. He or she will recommend appropriate nutritional therapy if necessary. So-called formula diets or high-energy and high-calorie drinks from the pharmacy are available for this purpose.
Tips for a high-calorie diet for cancer
Reach for high-calorie foods such as cream cakes or cream yogurt. The bread topping, for example with cheese, should also be a little more generous. Prepare meals with high-fat sauces, toss the pasta in butter, and eat dessert dishes.
· Fatty fish such as herring, salmon, or tuna is highly recommended.
· Do not drink before or with meals, it will fill you up quickly.
· Malt beer or milkshakes are high-energy drinks.
· So that you always have something delicious at home when you get hungry, it has proven to be a good idea to shop in advance. For example, you can distribute small bowls with appetizing snacks in the apartment so that you can always eat something in between.
· If you feel nauseous easily, avoid food odors as much as possible. Ventilate the apartment more often – this also stimulates the appetite.
· It is also helpful to set the table nicely for meals – you should feel like eating. Or invite friends to dinner – it always tastes better together.