Supporting Cancer Patients: Tips for Healthy Eid Meals
B Between neighborhood gatherings and office parties, last-minute shopping and wrapping, baking and swapping cookies, and eating healthy during the holidays when sauces, desserts, and stews often take center stage, it’s a challenge for most. But for cancer patients, it is especially important. Eating healthy food before, during, and after cancer treatment can help patients feel better and stay stronger, as well as help fight infection.
“It is important not only to eat healthy during the holidays to maintain your nutritional status, but also to stay healthy.” — Crystal Langlois, RD, CSO, LD, director of nutrition at our hospital near Atlanta
Heading to a meeting, Langlois has a few suggestions for how to make healthy choices.
Tips for healthy eating:
- Eat something small before you go, such as fruit with nut butter, yogurt with fruit, or vegetable sticks.
- Use a salad platter in preference to smaller portions.
- Be selective in your eating and only eat the foods you want to eat.
- Eat high-fiber foods first, such as nuts, salads, and whole grains.
- Wait 20 minutes before getting seconds.
- Minimize unconscious snacking.
- Drink water, which helps you feel full and digest your food.
Another key component of eating healthy during the holidays is making sure your food is fully cooked and does not spoil. “Many cancer treatments cause patients to have a weakened immune system, which makes them more susceptible to foodborne illnesses,” Langlois says. “That’s why practicing food safety when eating out and reheating food is so important.”
Langlois offered a number of tips that she says can help guide your nutritional care habits.
Food safety tips:
- Refrigerate food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
- Reheat leftover food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Langlois says tweaking some family recipes to be healthier can also help you stay on track. Consider these recipes for oven-roasted turkey breast or roasted chicken with fresh herbs. For one thing, replacing mashed potatoes with cauliflower mashed with light sour cream can cut calories. Also consider sauteed eggplant and black bean salad recipes for nutritious additions to your holiday appetizer. And for dessert, try vegan chocolate truffles and avocado chocolate mousse for healthy versions of party favorites.
Langlois also suggests making these changes to popular recipes.
- Use two egg whites instead of one to lower cholesterol without losing flavor.
- Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in mashed potatoes to add flavor and reduce butter or ghee.
- Replace applesauce with oil, margarine, or butter on muffins and bread.
- Use fat-free yogurt for marinades, sauces, and cake garnishes.
- Use sliced almonds for a crunchy topping, instead of fried onion rings.
- Use low-fat or low-fat cheese, such as mozzarella, for salads and casseroles.
- Use vegetables or fruit for a dip in place of crackers and chips.
Individual needs may vary. Always discuss your diet with your care team.
Find healthier recipes for meals, snacks and desserts.