Cancer survivors can experience challenges, in addition to nausea, that can affect their eating and the nutrition they need to maintain weight.
Professionals who may be members of the patient’s healthcare team can advise about preventing or limiting the effects of other challenges to eating and nutrition. The team may include oncologists, surgeons, nurses, dentists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and dietitians. Some of the concerns they can address are:
- poor appetite
- swallowing difficulties
- changes in taste
- dry mouth
- mouth sores and pain
- removal of teeth before cancer treatment
Nutritional and eating challenges may cause weight loss, which in turn may cause fatigue, and if accompanied by muscle loss, decreased ability to do physically demanding jobs. Eating may be painful or take a longer than it used to. The patient needs to maintain their calorie intake by eating often, meaning they may need to eat often and regularly at the worksite. Removal of teeth may cause a change in appearance, which may affect confidence when a patient works with the public.
Advice and recipes on eating healthfully and cancer:
- ELLICSR Kitchen Program – Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
- Nourish – Advice from registered dietitians
- Eating Well When You Have Cancer (PDF) – Canadian Cancer Society
- EatRight Ontario – This service provides easy-to-use nutrition information to help patients make healthier food choices
There are several ways that jobs can be modified to accommodate other challenges to eating and nutrition:
Modify work tasks and schedules:
- Request flexible and/or extended breaks to accommodate the patient’s eating and nutrition needs.
- Drink nutritional supplements at the workstation throughout the day.
Modify the work environment:
- Request a quiet, private area to eat if the patient is uncomfortable doing so in front of co-workers.
- Request storage space for any extra materials or supplies that are required to meet the patient’s nutrition needs.