Active gym goer Anchal Sharma changed her eating habits after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Learn about the kind of foods recommended for those with cancer, in the first of Foreverfit’s posts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2017. 

Life took a dramatic turn for 32 year old Anchal Sharma, when she was handed a diagnosis of breast cancer. This regular gym goer never imagined that breast cancer would strike her, and struggled to accept her plight. But courage prevailed, and she made a decision to fight her battle bravely.

She underwent medical treatment, and took nutritional guidance from me, to improve her health and hasten her recovery. And that’s not all. Anchal was motivated to begin a charitable organization, which serves healthy, nutritious meals to the underprivileged. As her nutritional counsellor, I can see how her well-being has improved.

Foreverfit- Breast cancer 2 (2)

Adopt a holistic plan for healing

Aside from the medical treatment required after a diagnosis of breast cancer, lifestyle modifications are also important. In addition to regular physical activity, it’s important to get enough adequate rest and eat nutritious food, to boost immunity.

Daily meals should include a variety of food from the four main food groups, during and after breast cancer treatment. During Anchal’s treatment, I advised her to follow a plant based diet. Later, I drew up a high protein and high carbohydrate diet for her. Those with cancer need a high calorie, high protein diet, well balanced with the help of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Diet tips

#1 Eat more fibre

So, eat 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables, plus whole grain cereals, every day.  Cancer medications- especially the pain killers- cause constipation. Adding fibre and increasing your fluid intake can help alleviate this problem. Aside from its antioxidant content, fruit has selenium and vitamins A, C and E.

And vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, greens, papaya, bell peppers and tomatoes are all good sources of carotenoids; onions, broccoli, black, green and oolong tea and fruits, all have flavonols whereas aromatic herbs like parsley, celery and chamomile tea, all have flavones.

Carotenoids, flavonols and flavones lower the risk of breast cancer and promote healing. In addition, it’s useful to incorporate soya bean products, and fibre of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and flaxseeds, since these are high in phyto-oestrogens.

#2 Eat starchy carbohydrates

Eat potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other carbs you enjoy. You can also include low fat and low sugar dairy products, soy products, yoghurt, nuts, and so on.

#3 Get ample protein

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, chicken, meat and other protein rich food must be eaten regularly, to help tissue renewal, and recovery. Importantly, a person suffering from cancer is under stress from different treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Eating enough protein is important to speed up healing, and boost the immunity. Aside from the foods above, you should have a portion of cheese, peanut butter, seeds, nuts, and yoghurt.

#4 Take supplements if required

If you are unable to eat enough nutritious food, add some nutritional supplements to your diet. You can go for a drink, or take powders or capsules. Ask your doctor to recommend vitamin and mineral supplements, based on your individual needs.