Tips and advice
Eating well during your treatment
Your nutritional needs may be even higher during your prostate cancer treatment. You will need a good supply of protein, nutrients, and liquids—not necessarily in the form of extra calories. Good nutrition promotes recovery, preserves muscle mass, and boosts your immune system. That being said, no single food or nutrient alone contains everything you need. The best strategy for meeting all your nutritional needs during treatment is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
However, it’s not always easy to eat well during your treatment. Some patients suffer from side effects that prevent them from eating the healthy foods they like.
You are being offered to meet with a dietician? Say yes!
Talk to a dietician specializing in cancer care. Together, you will assess your eating habits and choose foods that are good for you. Your dietician will consider your side effects when planning your diet. If you don’t want to see a dietician, consult your urologist or family doctor.
Diet can influence some treatments for cancer such as oral chemotherapy. It is important to know if a medication should be taken before, during or after a meal, as this can influence the assimilation of the active substances it contains and, therefore, the effectiveness of the treatment.
But you also need to pay attention to what you eat / drink during your treatment. The best known example of this interaction is probably grapefruit juice. This can influence the efficacy, side effects and toxicity of many drugs, including some treatments for cancer.
In addition to grapefruit juice, other interactions with certain foods or beverages are known. The same goes for some smoking-related interactions. It is therefore important to always read the instructions for use before taking a medication and to seek advice from your doctor and pharmacist.
Finding the perfect food…
The side effects of prostate cancer treatment can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet. The different treatments can make you nauseous, cause anemia, osteoporosis, intestinal inflammation (radiation enteritis), affect your taste, lower your interest in food, or make you gain weight that is hard to lose. Remember that most side effects will fade with time.
But what kind of diet should I follow during treatment? For the patient and his loved ones, it’s not always easy to know:
- what to eat
- how to prepare their meals
- how to sort fact from fiction when it comes to all the suggestions you get
General tips for dealing with changes in your appetite
Loss of appetite
- Prepack 3 small protein- and calorie-rich meals
- Snack between meals to increase your food intake
- Always have calorie-dense snacks on hand (cookies, nuts, chocolate, etc.)
- Spend some time on meal presentation
- Eat in a quiet environment
Feeling full quickly, early satiety
- Prepack 3 small protein-and calorie-rich meals
- Snack between meals to increase your food intake
- Avoid drinking during your meal, instead drink between meals
- Ask for help with meal preparation
- Have meals delivered to your home
- Read more in our section Tips for Fighting Fatigue
Tips for handling digestive and sensory problems
Changes in taste and smell
- Have good dental hygiene
- Try out new recipes
- Serve food cold to reduce its taste
- Season your food with spices or herbs to make them more flavourful
- Avoid smelly foods
Mouth sores or mouth pain
- Have good oral hygiene
- Avoid food that can irritate your mouth, such as, overly salty, sweet, or spicy foods
- Try changing the texture of your food: ground, pureed, liquid
- Try changing the texture of your food: chopped, pureed, liquid
Nausea & vomiting
- Try to recognize what time of day your feelings of nausea are most intense
- Snack between meals to increase your food intake
- Eat foods you enjoy
- Choose food and drinks that are cool or chilled
- Avoid fatty foods (fried foods, charcuteries, sauces, etc.)
- Avoid strong odours—strong smells can cause nausea
- Avoid high-fibre foods (fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, legumes, and pulses)
- Avoid drinking milk because of its high lactose content
- Choose foods known for their constipating effect (rice, cooked carrots, bananas, grated apples)
- Stay well-hydrated
- Choose high-fibre foods (fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, legumes, and pulses)
- Drink more liquids, minimum 1.5 L/day
- Exercise regularly whenever possible
If your symptoms are affecting your appetite, consult a dietician who will help you plan meals tailored more to your needs. In case of severe symptoms, speak to your doctor immediately.
Weight loss or gain
Balancing your diet
En cas de risque de perte de poids ou de perte de poids avérée
We may think that having a diverse and well-balanced diet is important when it comes to cancer. However, when it comes to undernutrition or malnutrition, priorities change. The primary focus shifts to ensuring that the body is getting all the calories and proteins it needs to maintain a stable weight.
A balanced diet becomes secondary to eating calorie- and protein-rich dishes. The fact that these calories are coming from “less healthy” dishes is not as important as maintaining good nutrition. Good nutrition is vital in the fight against cancer and in increasing the chances of a successful treatment.
Suggestions pour les hommes touchés aux prises avec une perte importante de poids
- Eat several small snacks throughout the day, rather than 3 large meals.
- Eat your favorite foods at any time of the day. For instance, eat breakfast foods for dinner if they appeal to you.
- Eat every few hours. Don’t wait until you feel hungry.
- Eat your biggest meal when you feel hungriest. For example, if you are most hungry in the morning, make breakfast your biggest meal.
- Try to eat high-calorie, high-protein foods at each meal and snack.
- Exercise lightly or take a walk before meals to increase your appetite.
- Drink high-calorie, high-protein beverages like milk shakes and canned liquid supplements.
- Drink most of your fluids between meals instead of with meals. Drinking fluid with meals can make you feel too full.
- Try homemade or commercially prepared nutrition bars and puddings.
If weight loss continues despite the application of these tips, check with your doctor about taking vitamin or mineral supplements to help improve your overall nutrition. Your doctor may recommend commercial nutritional supplements if you can’t meet your nutritional needs from food or drink alone.
Lots of supplements are available. They come in a number of forms and flavours, including ready-to-use beverages, powders, puddings, bars. These supplements can be used alone or add to small meals to provide more calories or protein. You can buy commercial nutritional supplements, such as Boost or Ensure, from a pharmacy or grocery store. Some supplements are made to address special needs like lactose intolerance or diabetes. Talk to a registered dietitian about commercial nutritional supplements and which one would be best to use.
In case of weight gain
Le cancer et/ou ses traitements peuvent entraîner des troubles alimentaires et/ou des pertes de poids. Sauf avis contraire de votre oncologue, il est déconseillé de suivre un régime amincissant durant le traitement. Il est préférable d’attendre qu’il soit terminé.
If you are coping well with few side effects or these are well controlled, you may be able to make lifestyle changes that encourage weight loss while undergoing cancer treatment. For others, waiting until after treatment may be the right decision. Discuss options with your cancer doctor and/or dietitian.
If you need to lose weight, a safe rate of weight loss is 1–2 lbs. (0.5–1 kg) per week. The most effective way to lose weight is to balance the number of calories you consume with your physical activity level. Over time, eating fewer calories than you need, will result in weight loss. Despite the popularity of fad diets, the most important factor when it comes to weight loss is the number of calories consumed. Keeping physically active will help to spare muscle and maintain weight loss over the long term.
Some treatments such as hormone therapy can cause unintentional weight gain. During the treatment, the priority will be to slow down or stop this weight gain. It is not recommended to start dieting as it could be dangerous.
It will be necessary to reduce your energy intake by eating more fruits and vegetables and less fatty and sugary foods. Whenever possible, try to do 30 minutes of adapted physical exercise every day.
Advice for men with prostate cancer
- A maximum of 15–20% of your daily calorie intake should be from fat.
- Instead of frying, steam your vegetables and grill or bake your fish and poultry.
- Eat one to two servings of fish a week.
- Eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Use herbs, garlic, onions, and spices instead of butter, salt, or creamy sauces.
- Reduce or eliminate red meats from your diet.
Tips for fighting fatigue
Meal planning, grocery shopping, food preparation, and even eating all require energy—something many of our readers may be lacking. We have provided you with various strategies to keep yourself well‑nourished when you are tired. You’ll see, it’s possible!
Cancer-related fatigue is the most common and often most distressing side effect experienced. It’s different from the fatigue that everyone has from time to time; it is usually more severe, longer lasting, and can affect your quality of life. Resting more or doing less will not make it go away.
Fuel up at regular intervals
Food gives our body energy, like fuel powers a car. Eating every few hours throughout the day gives your body a constant source of energy and helps to maintain blood sugar levels.
Maintaining muscle mass
To keep energy levels stable and reduce muscle loss, be sure to include a source of protein (fish, poultry, dairy products, nuts, legumes, eggs, or meat) with all meals and snacks.
Not drinking enough fluids increases fatigue. Most people need eight cups (2 litres) of fluid every day. Fluid is anything liquid at room temperature—including water, juice, milk, smoothies, soups, broth, sports drinks, popsicles, flavoured gelatin (Jell-O©), ice cream, or herbal tea.
Keep it simple
Eating nutritiously doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. Try to eat food from at least three food groups at each meal and from a minimum of 2 food groups for each snack (see table below).
Break old habits. Don’t feel like cooking?
Why not try some store-bought dishes from the supermarket or have leftovers from the night before?
You can also try eating breakfast food at night or microwaving more of your meals or snacks. Don’t be scared to do or try something new if it helps you eat.
Plan for convenience.
Frozen meals, canned fish or poultry, instant oatmeal, mixed nuts or seeds, and liquid meal replacements are all quick and easy nutritious solutions. Take a look at some meal and snack ideas in the table below.
Source : Savourez santé
Getting all the nutrients your body needs will help you maintain your weight, keep your strength up, and stay active—all important factors in managing cancer-related fatigue—all while speeding up your recovery. Find out about catering or meals-on-wheels services available for patients undergoing treatment in your neighbourhood. Don’t hesitate to ask a member of your healthcare team for other strategies for dealing with fatigue.
Combining a few simple ingredients like milk or soymilk, nuts, and fruits in a blender makes a quick meal or snack.
When shopping for ready-made meals like frozen dinners, read the labels and try choosing protein‑rich products that are low in sodium and saturated fats. Complete your meal with a glass of milk, slice of cheese, Greek yoghurt, or a handful of nuts to increase protein content.
Liquid meal replacements
These “meals in a bottle” (such as Boost ® or Resource® 2.0) are convenient, available in a variety of flavours, and provide all the essential nutrients. They can be used either as a meal or snack alternative, or taken in small amounts with medication throughout the day. If your diet consists almost entirely of nutritional supplements, you should discuss your options with your dietician.
Advice from men like you
“When I feel good in the morning I make sure to have a hearty breakfast.”
“On days when fatigue weighs me down I don’t get very hungry at mealtimes. Instead I have several small meals throughout the day and always keep my favourite snack on hand.”
“I cook in larger amounts and freeze it into small portions for when I’m feeling fatigued and don’t feel like cooking.
“In the days following my treatment, I often feel fatigued and don’t have the will to cook. I have pre-cooked or frozen meals. It’s fast and convenient.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire a domestic aid service to help you with meal preparation.”
“My family and loved ones are always willing to lend a helping hand when I ask them to help me with groceries or pre-cooked meals.”
It may also be helpful to consult a dietician who will take the side effects you are experiencing into consideration and personalize your diet to your needs.
For your quality of life and well-being in general, it is important to eat healthy and exercise regularly in any way possible. Our growing knowledge in nutrition and cancer has allowed us to develop guidelines for dealing with different cancers and treatments.
Appetite problems aren’t going away?
Some side effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, changes in taste and smell, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, unwanted weight loss or weight gain, can persist for some time after treatment or even be irreversible.
Talk to a specialist during your checkup. A simple dietary change can reduce or even remedy your problem.
Link between nutrition and cancer
Studies confirm that a healthy diet is almost entirely vegetarian—consisting of a variety of vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, and legumes—it helps fight all stages of cancer. Even the smallest changes to your diet and lifestyle can translate into significant benefits for your health.
Eating 1 to 2 additional servings of fruit and vegetables a day, replacing white bread with wholegrain bread, or taking longer daily walks are all changes that can have a positive impact.
A balanced diet incorporates important compounds that protect the body against disease.
Post-cancer nutrition: Suggestions
Une alimentation saine, équilibrée et variée reste essentielle, après le traitement également. La recherche montre que le respect des conseils alimentaires préventifs suivants peut contribuer à prévenir un nouveau cancer, le risque de rechute ou encore d’autres maladies chroniques :
A diverse and well-balanced diet is just as important after treatment. Research shows that following the guidelines listed below can help prevent relapse or the development of new cancers or other chronic diseases:
- Try to reach your ideal weight and maintain it by eating a balanced diet and exercising.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day—try taking a brisk walk.
- Limit your consumption of calorie-rich snacks like junk food and sugary drinks.
- Eat a variety of different coloured vegetables, fruits, grain, and legumes.
- Eat at least 5 servings (600 g in total) of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Limit your consumption of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) to a maximum of 500 g a week.
- Avoid charcuteries (pâté, salami, sausage, etc.).
- Avoid alcohol, or limit yourself to one glass a day.
- Avoid taking nutritional supplements—they don’t protect you from cancer!
Tips for preventing a recurrence
There is no scientific evidence of a “miracle” superfood. Outside of treatment, a diverse and well-balanced diet is the best way of preventing relapses. Here are several suggestions:
Do you eat red meat?
- Limit it to twice a week
- Choose lean meat
- Remove visible fat from the meat and the skin from poultry reduces the amount of harmful chemicals that are released when the fat cooks.
- Marinate your meat if you plan to BBQ or grill it (link to blog article)
Do you like salty or processed meats and food?
- Save meats such as hotdogs, ham, or charcuteries for special occasions and holidays.
- Eat processed foods in smaller quantities and only from time to time.
Do you eat dairy or other fatty products?
- Choose low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, or sour cream.
- Eat and cook with butter and margarine in moderation.
- Use garlic and olive oil in your mashed potatoes instead of butter and milk.
- Dip your bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter.
- Make your own vinaigrette using olive or canola oil.
- Eat fish at least twice a week to get enough Omega-3.
- Eat healthy fats like avocado, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax, olive oil, corn oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, and soft nonhydrogenated margarine.
Do you like soft drinks, pastries, chocolate, cooks, and salty snacks?
- Eat them in small amounts and only occasionally.
- Mix fruit juice with sparkling water so it’s like a soft drink.
- Gradually decrease the amount of sugar you add to your coffee or tea.
- Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat (antioxidants).
- Increase the amount of wholegrains and legumes you eat.
- Exercise moderately for 30 minutes a day.
- Get outside more: trips, outside sports, gardening.
- Only take food and vitamin supplements if you are deficient and have been advised to by a medical professional.
- Maintain a normal body mass index (BMI) of between 20–25. The BMI is calculated by dividing weight (kg) by height (m) squared (BMI = weight/height2).
- Limit weight gain.