Nutrition therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
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 likely drop, increasing your risk of infection. A strict adherence to food safety is very important at this time.
For a period of time following the transplant, our registered dietitians 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.
Also, since vitamin D is important for NHL patients, our dietitians may work with your oncologists to have your vitamin D levels checked and may recommend supplements, if needed.
Managing side effects of NHL treatment with nutrition therapy
Treatment for NHL may cause side effects, including weight loss, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, low blood counts and increased risk of infection. These side effects may impair your ability to stay nourished and interfere with your treatment.
Our dietitians are available to work with you and the other members of your NHL care team, including your gastroenterologist and naturopathic clinician, throughout your treatment. Together, they may 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: Our dietitians may want to monitor you closely to see that you are maintaining a healthy weight, since weight loss may delay or interrupt your treatment.
- Fatigue: Our dietitians may recommend small, frequent meals and nutrient-dense foods to help increase your energy levels.
- Nausea: Our dietitians 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, they may suggest that you eat a high-protein, bland meal.
- Constipation: Your dietitian may recommend that you increase your fiber intake and stay hydrated to help prevent and relieve constipation.
What is nutrition therapy?
Many cancer patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms. The nutrition therapy team works with our patients to help restore digestive health, prevent malnutrition and provide dietary recommendations during treatment. Our goal is to help you stay strong and nourished, so you can continue with your cancer treatment.
Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian. During this visit, one of our dietitians will give you a comprehensive nutritional assessment to identify daily goals for calories and protein. The dietitian will look at your health history, disease type and treatment plan to recommend nourishing foods during your cancer care.
The dietitian will monitor your nutrition status from the beginning to the end of your cancer treatment, making modifications as needed to help address side effects and prevent treatment interruptions before they arise.
Our dietitians communicate regularly with the oncologists and the other members of the patient's cancer team. Working together in close proximity allows for a fully integrated approach to treating cancer. Your dietitian is able to alert other members of your care team, such as your medical oncologist, to specific nutrition challenges you may be experiencing. Everyone works together to identify solutions designed to meet your individual needs.
We also provide information and classes about healthy eating habits to your caregivers and family members, so you can continue a healthy lifestyle at home.