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It can be easy to slack on healthy eating habits after a cancer diagnosis.

Focusing on proper nutrition, however, is an essential part of every treatment plan as it has many benefits to your overall health. Eating the right amount of key nutrients can help you maintain a healthy weight during treatment and ultimately aid in a faster recovery.

For many cancer patients, getting the proper nutrition can be difficult. Side effects from anti-cancer medicines and a lack of appetite can lead to unintentional weight loss or malnourishment. During treatment, make an effort to eat three balanced meals a day with snacks and water. You should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water every day in order to best support your body in its recovery efforts.

You can also include protein-rich foods in your diet to promote growth and the healing of damaged tissues. This is especially important after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy when your immune system is weakened and extra protein is needed to help ward off dangerous infections. A lack of protein may cause your body to break down muscles for energy, lengthening the time it takes to make a full recovery or regain strength. Protein can be found in lean meats, like chicken and fish, and eggs, Greek yogurt, almonds and other nuts and soybeans.

The American Cancer Society also recommends eating more antioxidants, a group of nutrients that includes vitamins A, C and E. Antioxidants help protect the body against free radicals, a factor in cancer prevention and diagnosis. To include more antioxidants in your diet, choose fresh fruits and vegetables like blueberries, broccoli, spinach, raspberries, black beans or apples.

As always, for specific questions or diet recommendations during treatment, talk to your Tennessee Oncology care team. They will know what foods to avoid in order to best counteract side effects, symptoms or discomfort.

To learn more about nutritious choices during your cancer journey, visit the American Cancer Society.