During mesothelioma treatment, you may see a number of different specialists. Oncologists, radiation therapists, pulmonologists . . . each of these doctors play a vital role in your recovery. Slightly less obvious, though, is the nutritionist.
But they don’t have to go overlooked. Many hospitals and cancer centers actually have a nutritionist on staff.
Multidisciplinary systems understand that as your body works overtime to get rid of mesothelioma cells, how you fuel your body becomes especially important. Oncological nutritionists can help you understand how to optimally fuel your body to fight off the cancer cells, how to use nutrition to improve your response to therapy and even how to make food choices that can help you manage your symptoms.
Nutritionists can help you figure out the right macronutrient balance for your body. They can help you create a goal of how many calories and grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat to eat each day. They will take into account individualized factors such as your age, gender, activity level and weight goals. To take the guess work out of eating, they can also create a customized meal plan that accurately reflects your needs.
A nutritionist also can help you cope with nausea, vomiting, mouth sores or digestive distress by adjusting what you eat. You may want to keep a food journal to determine which foods are making your symptoms worse.
By using a process of elimination, you can help identify which foods to cut out of your diet until the side effects pass and identify which foods help reverse these adverse conditions.
What You Might Want to Ask Your Nutritionist
Each patient will have different concerns to discuss with their nutritionists. Before your first appointment (or between appointments), write down any question that pop into your brain.
Below are some general topics to think about:
- I’m losing weight from chemotherapy/radiation therapy. Should I increase my calories?
- I’m not as active as I used to be. Do I need to change the way that I fuel my body?
- My appetite is missing. Do I need to look into meal replacements or supplements?
- Will I need extra protein to avoid muscle deterioration?
- I’m experiencing side effects from treatment. What food should I avoid until the side effects go away, and what foods can I use to soothe them?
- What vitamins can make my immune system stronger against mesothelioma? What foods are the best sources of them?
- I’ve heard a lot about juicing. Is this something that could benefit me?
Your needs may change over the course of treatment. Feel free to bring up any new conditions or questions with your nutritionist, and be sure to get their approval before making any changes to your diet!