Balanced, healthy nutrition is important. Eating a healthy diet can help you heal faster, stay healthier and feel better. During and after your non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, be sure to:
- Take in enough calories every day.
- Eat a balanced diet. This means eating a healthy variety of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Make sure you have healthy foods handy for when you need them.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Keep your muscles strong. Stay as active as you can so you don’t lose lean muscle.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water/fluids.
Why are these important? The body needs certain nutrients to help it heal. Healing takes energy, so you need calories. Your body needs protein to help the tissue heal after surgery. If you don’t eat enough protein, the body will take what it needs from your muscles. This can cause you to lose muscle mass. When your muscles get weaker, you lose strength. This makes it harder to go about your day.
Healthy nutrition can keep your immune system stronger. A healthy immune system helps keep your healthy blood cell counts up and lowers the risk for infection. Chemotherapy often causes cell counts to go down. This may lead to infection (if white blood cells get too low), bleeding (if platelets get too low) or anemia (if red blood cells get too low). When cell counts are too low, you may have to miss or delay treatments. Keeping your cell counts up may help you stay on track with your treatments.
Sometimes, eating healthy is difficult due to the side effects of your therapy. Here are some ideas that may help.
For nausea and vomiting:
- Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day. Don’t avoid eating. An empty stomach may make the nausea worse.
- If smells bother you, let someone else do the cooking and stay away from the kitchen.
- Take anti-nausea medications as prescribed – and try to eat when they are working their best.
When you don’t have an appetite or don’t feel like eating:
- Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day. Try to eat foods that are high in calories. Examples include peanut butter, avocados, protein smoothies and nuts.
- Have food prepared and ready.
- Keep as active as you can to help stimulate your appetite.
If you are constipated:
- Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, water with electrolytes, milk, fruit juice, decaffeinated tea or sports drinks. Avoid caffeine.
- Add more high-fiber foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Get as much exercise as possible. This can help keep your stools from being hard.
If you have diarrhea:
- Try foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, yogurt and oats.
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, so you don’t get dehydrated.
If you feel bloated:
- Drink your liquids without using a straw.
- Stay away from carbonated beverages.
- Avoid greasy foods or other foods that make you gassy.
If you have a fever:
- Take in enough calories. You burn more calories when you have a fever.
- Be sure to drink fluids even if you don’t feel like it. Try fluids with calories like chicken soup or protein smoothies.
- Contact your doctor if you have a fever 100.4°F or higher.
Nutritional needs may vary depending on your age, medical history, diagnosis, type and stage of treatment, and what side effects. Work with your doctor or dietitian to help you plan your meals with foods that you can tolerate as you go through treatment and help make sure you get the nutrition you need.
We’re here to help.
Your CVS Specialty® CareTeam is always available to answer your questions. They can also help with medication side effects and give you more tips on eating healthy. If you have questions or want to learn more, talk to your doctor or contact the CareTeam.