Following a breast cancer diagnosis one of the first things we think about is what should and shouldn’t I be eating? Should I go organic? What about when I don’t feel like eating anything? Should I focus on super foods? In this episode Accredited Practicing Dietician and oncology nutrition expert Emma Slee answers all these questions and more, provided in easy to understand terms, with practical examples.
CHATTING WITH…Emma Slee
Emma Slee believes in the value of using medical nutrition therapy to help patients through their cancer journey.
Emma has significant dietetic experience in many cancers and has spent the majority of her career working as a clinical dietician in the area of Oncology.
Completing her qualifications in a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics in 2007, Emma commenced work at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco, providing care to Oncology patients during their hospital admission.
Emma now works with Specialised Nutrition Care, where she provides individualised nutrition care to patients who are well enough to be at home.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
WHAT is oncology nutrition
ALL ABOUT the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
WHAT a typical day looks like following those guidelines
Is there anything you SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be eating following a breast cancer diagnosis
ADVICE on weight loss and gain
INFORMATION on things like supplements, super foods, going organic, and food safety
HOW and WHERE to find an accredited practising dietician
What is oncology nutrition?
Specialised nutrition care and advice for cancer patients, specifically in the areas of preventative, treatment and recovery.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
There are five key food groups – eat a balance from these groups most days.
Example 8000kj – Average Adult Daily Intake
TIP: Make sure you look up your specific recommended daily calorie intake based on your weight & height at https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/
6 serves Bread and Cereals
2 serves Fruit
5 serves Vegetables
½ cup cooked vegetables
One cup salad vegetables
½ medium sized potato
3 serves Meat or Meat alternatives
2-3 serves of Dairy
Cup of milk
2 slices (40g) cheese
TIP: Be cautious of any diets that avoid whole food groups.
TIP: It is ok to avoid some foods, as long as you’re adequately replacing them with something high in nutrients, and from that food group.
Fats and oils can be added or left out depending on how your weight is progressing. To put on weight, add some fats and oils, to lose weight, be conscious of the amounts of fats and oils you are consuming.
What does a typical day look like following these guidelines?
2/3 cup cereal or 1/4 cup muesli or 2 Weetabix with a cup of milk or 200ml yoghurt and a slice of toast
3 x crispbreads with some avocado, cucumber and tomato
Meat and salad sandwich (65grams meat, slice of cheese, plenty of salad on two slices of bread)
Handful of dried fruit and nuts
1/2 chicken breast or piece of fish with 1/2 cup rice or pasta, a small potato, and a cup of vegetables
1/2 cup tinned fruit and some yoghurt
If you are going to have those ‘extras’ (like chocolate!) keep them as a treat food and make them good quality.
Is there anything you SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be eating following a breast cancer diagnosis?
First and foremost…..just keep eating. Your body needs food for fuel. Go for what you feel like, and what you can get down! Then focus on a good well-balanced diet.
There are no miracle foods or diets that will cure cancer, however good nutrition will help support your body during cancer.
Don’t overdo those extra foods high in fat and sugar that don’t have much nutritional value.
What about weight loss or gain?
Maintaining a healthy weight during treatment is important, however the most important thing following a breast cancer diagnosis is that you should be aiming to maintain your weight, keeping it stable. Then after treatment is the time to look at weight loss or gain.
What about supplements?
If you are taking any vitamins and minerals just run them past your oncologist to make sure they won’t interfere with your treatment.
Should you go organic?
From a nutrition point of view there’s no benefit of one over the other. Other than that it’s really a personal preference, but certainly not a necessity.
Where can I find someone to work with?
Dieticians Association of Australia – Accredited Practicing Dietician
Search for someone who specialises in oncology
“There are no miracle foods or diets that will cure cancer….however good nutrition will help support your body during and after treatment”
Australian Guide to Health Eating:
BCNA Healthy Eating Guidelines: https://www.bcna.org.au/health-wellbeing/physical-wellbeing/healthy-eating/
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