Weight gain after cancer treatment: Yes, it happens

Weight gain after cancer treatment: Yes, it happens

After completing your cancer treatment, you may be surprised to find that the numbers are skyrocketing. It may happen more than you think. Often after treatment, cancer patients revert to unhealthy habits, especially when it comes to eating. Says Crystal Langlois, director of nutrition at our nearby hospital. from Atlanta. “However, after treatment, they often feel free and excited to eat unhealthy foods that they didn’t feel obligated to eat during treatment. I think most patients are just happy with their treatments, so they tend to go back to their old ways.”

This relapse can have a detrimental effect on the patient’s health. Research has found that people who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or recurrence of cancer.

Changes in taste buds

Many cancer patients have also experienced a noticeable, long-term change in their taste buds, a common side effect of some cancer treatments that can worsen attempts to control their waistline. Something that tastes too salty or too sweet, for example, even if it has always been made the same way it was made. “I always encourage patients and caregivers to get creative with flavors and experiment with different spices until they find something they like,” Langlois says.

Others who have undergone hormone therapy may also find that they cannot maintain a healthy weight as they used to. Hormone therapy is often used to treat cancer by lowering the amounts of estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men, depriving cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow. However, at the same time, it can also lead to increased fat, decreased muscle mass, and decreased metabolism. Those who have been prescribed steroid medications to treat symptoms of inflammation, nausea, or the cancer itself may have a long-term buildup of fatty tissue and increased appetite. In each of these cases, Langlois says, eating more nutritious options can make a difference. I’ll tell my patients that sometimes it’s okay to eat something that might not be the healthiest, but I also challenge them to try the lean turkey or chicken burger instead of the traditional burger that can be long. calories and saturated fat,” she says.

Returning to a healthy weight is due to two familiar rules of thumb: diet and exercise. But first, Langlois says, it’s important to target the cause of weight gain to combat it. For example, if you are turning to rich, comforting foods that suit your palate, a registered dietitian can help you find healthy, delicious foods that fit your palate and waist. Or, if hormone therapy treatments are slowing your metabolism, your dietitian may suggest foods that are low in calories but rich in nutrients.

Langlois recommends talking to your health care professionals before starting a diet, changing your eating habits, or starting an exercise regimen. They may be able to suggest better exercises for you than others or certain food choices that can help with vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. A dietitian may also recommend limiting the amount of salt in your diet if your body is retaining fluid from previous treatments.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Langlois also recommends finding ways to incorporate nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet. Some options include:

  • Add finely chopped mushrooms to ground turkey or minced meat (burgers, meatloaf).
  • Add the grated apple or pear to the chopped chicken pieces.
  • Mash the cauliflower and add it to mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, pot pies, and casseroles.
  • Use spaghetti squash instead of pasta.
  • Add vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, or carrots to smoothies.
  • Add fruits like berries, pineapple, orange, banana, mango, and pear to smoothies.
  • Make a fruit salsa with strawberries, kiwis, and Granny Smith apples.

“Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, they’re very low in calories, and they fill you up faster and eat less,” Langlois says.

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