In addition to nausea and vomiting, there are a number of other potential problems related to cancer or cancer treatment that can affect your eating and meeting nutritional needs to maintain weight.
Your healthcare team can advise you about preventing or limiting the effects of these. The team may include oncologists, surgeons, nurses, dentists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and dietitians. Some of the concerns they can address include:
- poor appetite
- swallowing difficulties1
- changes in taste2
- 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, a decreased ability to do physically demanding jobs. Eating may be painful or take a longer amount of time. You may need to maintain your calorie intake by eating often, meaning you may need to eat often and regularly at your worksite. Removal of teeth may cause a change in appearance, which may affect confidence when working with the public.
Other web sources offering advice and recipes on eating healthy and cancer are:
- ELLICSR Kitchen Program (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network)
- “Welcome to Nourish” website – A first of its kind in Canada. This website is designed to help you play a more active role in your cancer treatment. Nourish wants to help you take care of yourself by eating well, and by managing some of the common side effects of cancer and its treatment.
- Eating Well When You Have Cancer booklet (PDF; Canadian Cancer Society)
- Eat Right Ontario – This service provides easy-to-use nutrition information to help you make healthier food choices.
Modify your work tasks and how you work:
- Ask for flexible and/or extended break times to accommodate your nutrition and feeding needs.
- Ask if you can drink (nutritional supplements) at your workstation throughout the day to meet nutritional requirements.
Modify your work environment:
- Request a quiet, private area to eat if you are uncomfortable doing so in front of co-workers.
- Request storage space for any extra materials or supplies that are required to meet your nutrition needs.