Being diagnosed with a brain tumour is a very challenging event, and it can be draining both mentally and physically. The symptoms and the treatment process can take a heavy toll on the mind and body. However, it is helpful to take some steps to manage your mental and physical health during this difficult time.
The Brain Tumour Charity advises that while any special diets that claim to cure or treat the symptoms of brain tumours should be treated with scepticism, eating well will boost your energy levels and help your body handle the rigours of the treatment process. There is no need to buy lots of expensive food supplements, but what you eat is important.
Some of the main issues around food for brain tumour patients include sickness, loss of appetite, or increased appetite. A medical professional should be able to advise you further about these issues, and if necessary, prescribe medication such as anti-emetic tablets.
In some cases, a brain tumour diagnosis may lead to weight gain. This can be due to exhaustion that makes usual levels of physical activity seem impossible, anxiety or depression triggering comfort eating, or because of the side effects of medication.
It is best to avoid the temptation to snack on sugary foods, or foods that are high in saturated fat such as cakes, biscuits, and fatty cuts of meat. These types of food tend to be highly processed, and are full of additives that are designed to prolong the shelf life of the food. Studies have shown that this can have a detrimental effect on healthy gut bacteria.
The best approach is to include lots of high fibre foods that help you to feel full for longer, and are therefore helpful for maintaining a healthy weight. Examples of high fibre foods include whole grain bread, rice, and pasta, lentils, fruit, and root vegetables. It is also important to eat lots of high protein foods, such as eggs and lean meats.
The stress of the diagnosis or treatment may also have the opposite effect, causing a loss of appetite that leads to weight loss. This can deprive the body of essential nutrients and vitamins, which is not advisable for anyone with a serious illness. The first line of approach would be to discuss the issue with your medical team.
It may help to switch the time of day you eat your biggest meal for when you feel the hungriest, such as breakfast or lunch, rather than your usual evening meal time. Eating smaller meals at more frequent intervals may also help, or even several nutritious snacks to replace meals.
If part of the issue is that you feel too tired to prepare a cooked meal, you can still have a blanched diet by cooking some frozen vegetables in the microwave for a few minutes, and adding them to a ready meal such as lasagne or cottage pie.
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