Eating well after treatment - Latest news • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

Eating well after treatment

You’ve made it through breast cancer treatment and now you can focus on your recovery. Most of the side effects you may have experienced, such as nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite, should start to ease, making it easier to enjoy your meals again.

It’s also a great opportunity to focus on your diet. Some people find that following a balanced diet gives them back a sense of control, while others may feel it’s allows them do the best for their health. Eating well can help you regain strength and improve your quality of life now that treatment has finished. It can also make it easier to maintain a healthy weight, which can lower the risk of breast cancer returning.

A healthy diet will look different for everyone, and it’s about finding what works best for you and your family. Generally, it’s a good idea to eat a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, add high-fibre foods to your plate and consider limiting your intake of red or processed meats. Of course, a balanced diet is all about, well, balance, so it’s okay to include treats into your diet every so often.

The best ‘diet’ to follow is one that you enjoy and one that you can follow long term. Small changes all add up, so you could think about some of the following tips:

  • Eat the rainbow by choosing different coloured fruit and vegetables to get a good mix of vitamins and minerals. An easy way to add variety into your diet is to buy a different fruit or vegetable each time you go grocery shopping.
  • Try to get most of your nutrients from food, instead of supplements. If you want to try supplements, talk to your medical team first.
  • Cook big batch meals and freeze the leftovers in portions, so you have nutritious meals on hand on nights you don’t feel like cooking.
  • Make the most out of mealtimes, by taking your time when eating and sitting down to eat with others, if you can. This can help make healthy eating a pleasure, rather than a chore.

It’s helpful to keep an eye on how much you’re eating, as well as what you’re eating. But you don’t need to weigh everything you eat! We all have a built-in portion guide: our hands. Here’s how you can measure portions using your hands as a guide:

Non-starchy vegetables

This group includes most vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and beetroot. One serving size is the size of your two hands cupped together.

Starchy vegetables, legumes and grains

Potatoes, kumara, corn, rice, bread, chickpeas, lentils and beans all fall under this category. One portion is the size of your closed fist.

Meat, poultry and fish

Meat and poultry includes red meat, chicken and pork. Aim to keep portions to the size of the palm of your hand and the thickness of your index finger. For fish, one serving is the size of the whole of your hand (about the size of a fish fillet).

You can also watch our webinar, Eating for wellbeing, for more tips on following a healthy diet after treatment. Many thanks to Adeline Wong for the above tips.