I've recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone several surgeries in the last 4 weeks. I am trying to prepare my body for chemotherapy and radiation. My question is, would I benefit from an individualized, tailor made diet plan for me or is there a general diet/vitamin plan that I can follow? I'm looking to not only do what's best for my body during treatment but too also do what I can nutritionally to prevent recurrence in the future.

It is wonderful that you are taking an interest in nutrition to prepare yourself for chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I work very closely with people getting ready to start treatment. I provide individualized nutrition education and will cover many things during our session (possibilities for side effects from treatment and how to manage with nutrition, lean body mass preservation, optimizing nutrition intake for improved energy levels, etc.) An individualized session with a registered dietitian is helpful because a dietary recall can be completed to gauge your food consumption. She can then provide advice/suggestions for any areas of your diet that may need improving (specific vitamin/mineral intake from whole foods, increased fiber, increased protein, etc.)

Nutrition can play a big role in reducing risk for cancer and reducing recurrence. Being at a healthy weight and getting adequate physical activity are two very important ways to help lower your risk. A body mass index (BMI) between 18.5-25 is considered healthy weight. In regards to exercise it is encouraged that you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Moving towards a plant-based diet is another step towards reducing risk. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables (at least five or more servings a day). Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are relatively low calorie foods that can help you achieve a healthy weight. They also supply numerous cancer fighting compounds called antioxidants and phytochemicals. To achieve optimal antioxidant/phytochemical intake, choose whole foods instead of supplements. Finally, if consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks and reduce the amount of salt and sodium in your diet. For more information, access the American Institute for Cancer Research and/or the American Cancer Society.

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