Eating the right foods and getting enough exercise are two of the most important things anyone can do for both their physical and mental health. This is especially true for cancer survivors.
Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Weight is Important
Gaining Weight After Cancer Treatment
Weight loss is a common side effect of cancer. Certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation can cause side effects like nausea, a loss of appetite, or dry mouth— all of which make it hard to swallow food. The taste and smell of food may have also changed, resulting in foods appearing less desirable. Side effects like this can make gaining weight back after treatment a challenge for many people.
Losing Weight After Cancer Treatment
While some patients need to regain weight after cancer treatment, others may need to focus on losing weight. For some, their medications may have contributed to their weight gain. For others, stress eating might have been the culprit. For others still, lack of exercise due to treatment may have resulted in weight gain and/or loss of muscle tone.
If your cancer treatment left you overweight or underweight, it’s important to do all you can to get back to a healthy weight.
Diet and Exercise Affect Your Weight, and Much More
Foods for Cancer Survivors
It turns out that the expression, "You are what you eat” really is true! As a cancer survivor, now is the ideal time to evaluate your diet and exercise habits so you can stay on a healthy path. What foods are stocked in your pantry and refrigerator? Are there more processed foods than there should be? Is the refrigerator lacking because you dine out frequently? If so, it may be time to re-evaluate your habits— and asking your cancer care team for help is a great place to start. Consider asking them to recommend a nutritionist to help you get on track. Adjusting your diet habits can take time. Start with small steps, continually working towards eating a balanced diet that is not filled with convenience or over-processed foods.
Physical Activity for Cancer Survivors
Cancer survivors can also greatly benefit from exercise. If exercise isn’t something you usually carve out time for, now is the perfect time to start. Fortunately, you can do this slowly by adding a little activity at a time. While you can certainly go to the gym, you don’t have to. Taking a walk in the park, lifting light weights at home, or going on a bike ride are enough. The goal is to be consistent, making time for this several days of the week. To make exercise less of a chore and more enjoyable, focus on finding an activity you actually like.