Keeping your body strong while undergoing chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can take a toll on your body and appetite, and cause you to lose weight. Even people who have a healthy diet before chemotherapy can experience problems during treatment.

It’s important to keep up a healthy diet for your energy, strength, muscles, and overall health. Even gentle exercise can give you a boost. Talk with your doctor or care team about the best ways to keep your strength during this time. Try to work with a dietitian and exercise physiologist, if possible, as they'll have great advice for you.

A healthy diet with enough energy (calories) and protein can help maintain your weight, muscle mass, and improve the effectiveness of treatment.

Be mindful of maintaining your weight and muscle mass but also managing issues like changes in taste, appetite, bowel function and fatigue.

Maintaining your weight or muscle mass during chemo:

It’s not unusual to lose weight or muscle mass while undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Loss of appetite is common. Here are some steps you can take to cope:

  • Eat small meals frequently.

  • Choose high-protein foods at each meal such as lean meats, eggs, chicken or fish.

  • Use herbs to flavour food, if your taste is changing or weakening.

  • Choose high energy, high protein snacks such as nuts, seeds or dairy foods.

  • Avoid sugary foods.

Coping with nausea, diarrhoea or fatigue

Nausea

  • Try eating cold or room temperature foods.

  • Salty foods may also help.

  • Ginger may help — in the form of ginger tea or ground ginger supplements.

  • Stay away from foods with strong smells.

Diarrhoea

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Avoid high sugar or fructose (fizzy drinks, juices, processed foods) and fatty foods.

Fatigue

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • High protein and high energy foods are critical.

  • Stay hydrated.

Read more on how you can manage fatigue after prostate cancer treatment.

Monitoring your side effects
during chemo

Not all people experience the same side effects while having chemo. Listen to your body to understand what feels wrong, and when you might need more support from your doctor or care team.

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind:

  • Weigh yourself regularly, and pay attention when your clothes feel looser on you.

  • Keep a diary of what you eat and track your appetite and bowel movements.

  • Work with your doctor and care team to include exercise in your routine.

Communicating with your doctor or care team

It’s important that you communicate with your care team and get the information you need.

Here are some questions you might want to ask your doctor:

  • How can chemotherapy help?

  • What is the goal of my chemotherapy?

  • How long will the treatment last? How many sessions?

  • Are there other options available?

  • What are the side effects? How long will they last?

  • Are there any clinical trials I can take part in?

  • Who do I contact if I’m having side effects or feeling ill during treatment?

  • What happens if my cancer comes back?

When visiting your doctor or care team, have a list of all your questions. This will help make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decisions for you.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Keeping your body strong while undergoing chemotherapy, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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