Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Nutrition Therapy
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Nutrition Therapy for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Nutrition therapy is an important part of the non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) treatment process. During NHL treatment, you may experience symptoms that can impact your ability to eat and, ultimately, your healing.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) provides a Nutrition Therapy Program to help prevent malnutrition, rebuild body tissue, decrease the risk of infection and enhance your overall well-being during treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nutrition therapy can also help prevent treatment delays or interruptions.
Individualized Nutrition Therapy During NHL Treatment
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and its treatments affect each person differently. Your registered dietitian will collaborate with your oncologists and the other members of your NHL care team to provide individualized nutrition therapy:
- Prior to NHL Treatment: Your dietitian will conduct an individualized assessment to evaluate your nutrition status based on factors like weight changes, food intake and nutrition impact symptoms. Then, we’ll develop an individualized nutrition plan based on your specific NHL treatment regime.
- During NHL Treatment: Your dietitian will monitor your nutrition status, and make modifications to your diet as needed. Your dietitian will likely encourage you to follow a plant-based diet, including less red meat and processed foods, and more fish, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- After NHL Treatment: Your dietitian will provide education about healthy eating habits to you and your family members, so you can continue to make good choices once you return home.
Managing Your Nutrition Status After a Stem Cell Transplant
Nutrition plays an important role for NHL patients who undergo a stem cell transplant. After the transplant, your blood cell counts, including infection-fighting white blood cells, will be lower, making you more susceptible to infection. A strict adherence to food safety is very important at this time.
For a period of time following the transplant, your dietitian may recommend a neutropenic diet. Diet restrictions may include avoiding raw/undercooked foods (e.g., meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables or unpeeled fruits) or unpasteurized dairy products. You may also need to be careful when eating out at a salad bar or deli.
Managing Side Effects of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment with Nutrition Therapy
Treatment for NHL can cause side effects, including weight loss, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, low blood counts and increased risk of infection. These side effects can inhibit your ability to stay nourished and interfere with your treatment.
Your dietitian will work closely with the other members of your NHL care team, including your gastroenterologist and naturopathic clinician, throughout your treatment. Together, they will recommend supplements and other therapies to support optimal digestion and nutrition, and help you manage side effects.
The following are some examples of how nutrition may be used to combat side effects throughout your NHL treatment:
- Weight Loss: Your dietitian will monitor you closely to ensure you are maintaining a healthy weight, since weight loss can delay or interrupt your treatment.
- Fatigue: Your dietitian may recommend small, frequent meals and nutrient-dense foods to give you more energy.
- Nausea: Your dietitian may recommend a low-fat, bland diet of cold foods (which have less odor), ginger products, peppermint or sea bands to combat nausea. An hour before treatment, he/she may suggest that you eat a high-protein, bland meal.
- Low Blood Counts: Your dietitian may recommend a well-balanced, protein-rich diet to help your blood counts return to a safe level.
- Constipation: Your dietitian may recommend you increase your fiber intake and stay hydrated to relieve constipation.
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