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Can You Eat Ice Cream During Chemo?

Fighting to recover from cancer is a long and drawn-out process, and those who go through it seldom report many bright spots along the way. Part of the reason for this is the lack of energy most patients experience, which limits their ability to engage in activities they may have once enjoyed; another issue is the difficulty of eating and drinking, which can rob patients of a potential source of happiness while leaving them malnourished. In fact, one of the main concerns faced by cancer patients is figuring out how to incorporate the necessary calories and nutrients into their diet, which is why many cancer care resources include recommendations on what foods to eat. One favorite food many patients ask about is ice cream, a tasty treat that’s also easy to eat. So, can you have ice cream during chemotherapy? To find out, keep reading as the experts at ENU explain.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition During Chemotherapy

No matter how difficult it becomes to eat or drink during your course of chemotherapy, it is crucial that you do everything you can to supply your body with the nutrition it needs, even if it means relying on protein shakes for cancer patients. Part of the danger of chemo is that it harms the body even as it kills cancerous cells, which means your systems will need to heal after each dose of chemo medication.

If you’re not keeping up with your nutritional requirements, it could leave you without the resources your body needs to repair the damage caused by chemo. Below, you can find more information about what dietary elements are most important during this critical time and how you can get more of them in your diet.

Protein

As one of the three macronutrients that keep our bodies functioning, protein is important for all human beings, not just those with cancer. However, protein plays a few specific roles in the body that especially benefit those struck by a serious illness, giving this nutrient outsize importance in the healing process.

For one thing, protein is an essential component in your body’s growth and repair mechanisms. The amino acids contained in protein are used for everything from the creation of enzymes and neurotransmitters to the production of new cells and preservation of existing tissues, especially muscles. In patients who are largely inactive and whose bodies may be relying on the breakdown of muscle tissue for fuel, getting plenty of protein can help slow the loss of muscle mass and help you keep up your strength.

Calories

Though not actually a type of nutrient, calories are nonetheless a major focus of cancer patients’ medical nutrition support efforts – so much so that some are encouraged to prioritize their calorie intake over more general nutritional concerns. Doctors and nutritionists often suggest the inclusion of calorie-dense foods – including snack foods and desserts like ice cream – to help patients increase their consumption.

A big part of the issue is that many patients get too few calories, and since calories are the body’s primary source of energy, those patients tend to lack energy. This calorie deficit can then lead to unwanted weight loss and malnutrition, which can force delays in your treatment schedule and hurt your overall prognosis.

Ice Cream and Cancer Nutrition

Although most dieticians would likely recommend limits on the amount of ice cream a person eats, cancer patients are something of a special case. Because of the importance of getting enough calories each day, foods that are both easy to eat and high in calories – ice cream, for example – are considered especially beneficial options.

One major benefit is the fact that ice cream is soft, which means that it requires little to no chewing – perfect for those who have mouth sores induced by chemo, as chewing can be painful or even impossible for those patients, plus the cold temperature of ice cream can provide some amount of relief from the pain and inflammation. Another key consideration is taste; though it may seem relatively unimportant, a significant number of cancer patients report changes in their sense of taste because of their treatments, which makes them less inclined to eat. The wide variety of ice cream flavors out there may make it more likely that a patient finds something that appeals to their adjusted senses and helps them enjoy their food.

From a nutritional standpoint, ice cream checks most of the boxes: It is high in calories, which is a plus for cancer patients, and it contains a mix of nutrients including protein, fats, carbs, calcium, and other elements that a body weakened by cancer and chemo probably needs. One warning, however: Patients should not get all of their calories from ice cream, even if it has much to offer. Do your best to mix in some healthier options as well, such as applesauce, soup, and liquid nutritional supplements for cancer patients.

Balanced, Convenient Nutrition Available from ENU

If conventional foods fail you, the only recourse is to try unconventional fare. A diet built around ice cream may sound crazy, but this tasty dessert comes with a number of advantages for cancer patients. However, there are healthier, more well-rounded options that can be just as convenient and tasty while providing a balanced mix of nutrients – take the meal replacement shake, for instance. Each shake from ENU contains significant helpings of protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals, plus they’re more than 300 calories apiece. If you or someone you know is struggling with nutrition after starting cancer treatments, try a nutritional shake from ENU today. Find out more by visiting us online or calling (855) 266-6733.

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