As the holidays are approach many cancer patients are concerned about how to handle all the food that comes with them, especially during treatment. One of the best ideas is to do just plan ahead.

Consider the side effects you’re experiencing and what foods can help alleviate them, or what foods you should avoid.  If you are hosting the dinner yourself you will be able to control what you cook.  If other people are creating part of the meal, there is a good chance they will ask you if you have any specific dietary restrictions.  If they don’t, make sure that you create your own items so you know that you have some food you can eat.  If you are unsure of what is best for you, consult a registered dietician or ask your doctor or nurse to provide a consultation. Additionally, the library at Cancer Services has cookbooks and materials on nutrition available to anyone to check out.

It is also smart to make healthy replacements. Focus on using spices for flavor instead of just depending on salt and use sow sodium broth when possible.  Eat a roasted turkey instead of a fried version.  Try wild rice instead of a traditional stuffing.  Have fresh fruit for dessert or make healthy substitutions during baking, such as egg whites or applesauce instead of oil.  Avoid alcohol, instead opting for water or a club soda.

Perhaps one of the best suggestions is simply to focus on family and friends instead of food.  Take time to talk with those you might not see often and make plans for other activities outside of eating.  Volunteer at a charity event or take time to make holiday decorations or presents as a group.  Add a post-dinner walk instead of a post-dinner nap to your holiday schedule. It is a great opportunity to continue conversations and to get exercise.

Visit these sites for additional hints.

For Caregivers: Coping with Holidays and Special Occasions – CancerCare
Healthy Holiday Eating – Mayo Clinic
From Cocktails to Champagne: AICR Tips for Holiday Health

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services at (225) 927-2273, [email protected] , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Avenue.