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Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) and Nutrition

Maintaining a nutritious and well-balanced diet is an important aspect of your comprehensive treatment plan and can help your body stay strong, fight off infection and deal with side effects of treatment.

The tips below are meant to help you take small steps towards feeling better and think through the right questions to ask your doctor, caregivers and loved ones.

Easy Tips for Eating Well

Build a Menu for You
Make it Simple
  • Try to find recipes that require minimal prep or ingredients that you can incorporate already prepped ingredients into easily (ex: pre-chopped veggies).

  • One-pan meals (ex: “sheet dinners”) and slow cooker recipes are great for low maintenance meals with very little effort.

Plan Ahead
  • Have a plan before you go to the store so you can save money and energy and help you stick to your personalized menu.

  • Consider buying frozen or canned foods to have in your pantry for days that you are too tired to cook or shop.

  • When you cook, consider making a few extra portions and storing them in your freezer.

  • Save money by planning meals around your grocery store's weekly advertisement.

Be Cautious With Supplements
  • Before taking a vitamin/mineral or herbal supplement, talk with your healthcare provider or RD to ensure it won’t interfere with your treatment.

Ask for Help
  • Send friends and family to the supermarket or ask if they can help by cooking a few meals for you.

  • Take advantage of the online ordering and grocery-delivery services that many grocers offer.

  • Host a meal-prep party - ask your friends to come over and help make a few meals that you can store in your freezer or eat that week.

Tips for Managing Symptoms

I don’t feel like eating

“I don’t feel like eating”

  • Eat small amounts throughout the day instead of eating big meals.

  • Choose drinks that are nourishing and high in calories and protein.

  • Consider mixing up your routine, like having breakfast for dinner, to make eating more exciting.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about medications that can help enhance your appetite that won’t interfere with your treatment.

“Food doesn’t taste or smell the same”

  • Before eating, rinse your mouth with a solution of 1 quart water, ¾ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

  • Your brain knows what the foods you normally eat taste like. Try eating food that aren't familiar to you.

  • Try sugar-free gum or hard candies with flavors such as mint, lemon or orange that can help mask a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.

  • Marinate meats in fruit juices, sweet wines, salad dressings or other sauces and flavor foods with herbs, spices, sugar, lemon or sauces.

Food doesn’t taste or smell the same
My mouth and throat are very sore

“My mouth and throat are very sore”

  • Share your symptoms with your healthcare provider and ask about mouthwashes or toothpaste available that can help soothe your mouth and throat.

  • Try soft, bland foods and eat meals at room temperature to avoid making your sore mouth feel worse.

  • Avoid high acid foods, such as tomatoes and citrus.

  • Cut foods into small pieces or grind, mash, or puree foods.

  • Drink plenty of fluid each day and reduce pain by using a straw when drinking.

“I’m always so nauseated”

  • Eat more bland foods such as toast, crackers and clear liquids.

  • Avoid foods that are very sweet, fatty, greasy or spicy.

  • Talk to you healthcare provider about your nausea - they may be able to recommend an anti-nausea medication to help.

I’m always so nauseated
I’m gaining/losing weight and don’t know why

“I’m gaining/losing weight and don’t know why”

  • If you experience weight changes during treatment, talk to your healthcare provider about what may be causing this change and asked to be referred to a RD to help you manage your water intake and diet.

"I have diarrhea"

  • Ask your RD, oncologist or nurse navigator about potential ways to address diarrhea.

  • Consider trying the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Apples and white toast) or ABC (Apples, Bananas and Cereal) diet for a while to reduce symptoms.

  • Drink clear fluids to replace fluid lost through bowel movements.

I have diarrhea

For 5 tips for eating well, click the button below.

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References:
  1. 1. “Sugar and Cancer.” EatRight - Oncology Nutrition, a dietetic practice of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from: "http://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/sugar-and-cancer/"

  1. 2. "Juicing & Cancer." EatRight - Oncology Nutrition, a dietetic practice of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from: <http://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/hot-topics/should-i-be-juicing/>.

  1. 3. "Symptom Management and Supportive Care - Metastatic Breast Cancer." Susan G. Komen. Retrieved from: https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/AdditionalCareforPeopleWithMetastaticBreastCancer.html.

  1. 4. "Acid/Alkaline Diet for Cancer? The Evidence, or Lack of." Cancer Dietitian - Lifestyle tips for prevention and survivorship. Keeping you well beyond cancer. Retrieved from: http://www.cancerdietitian.com/2011/10/acidalkaline-diet-for-cancer-the-evidence-or-lack-of.html.