Nutrition Therapy at Western
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At CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center (Western), we realize that staying nourished can make a difference when undergoing cancer treatment. Our Nutrition and Metabolic Support Department at Western provides individualized nutrition consultations by a registered dietitian.
Your cancer nutrition consultation will help you to better understand your daily goals for calories and protein, identify tools for best management of nutrition impact symptoms, as well as better understand which foods may have more cancer fighting properties. Registered dietitians counsel you throughout the entire cancer treatment process and afterwards.
Optimal nutrition allows your body to function at its best. Maintaining optimal nutrition can provide several benefits for people living with cancer, including:
- Reduce treatment interruptions
- Support immune function
- Improve tolerance to treatment
- Maintain or rebuild lean body mass
- Decrease your risk of infection
- Improve quality of life
- Help you recuperate faster
Dietitians are health professionals with extensive training in metabolism, human nutrition, and medical nutrition therapy. Your dietitian can help you meet your nutrition goals by making recommendations for how to keep you nourished with healthful foods and a well-balanced diet.
At the end of your initial consultation with your dietitian, you will receive an individualized, comprehensive nutrition assessment utilizing:
- Anthropometrics: This requires taking body measurements to account for percent of body fat and loss of lean tissue.
- Medical history and nutrition interview: This provides the nutrition team with insight into your appetite, food preferences, the status of your digestive system, and any existing or potential complications.
- Laboratory analysis of the blood: This helps to identify deficiencies that need repletion, or may indicate a need for diet change.
You may also receive the following additional tests during your care:
- Indirect calorimetry: A breathing test used to measure the amount of oxygen consumed in order to assess your calorie requirements.
- Computerized diet profile: This three day diet profile will allow your nutritionist to gain deeper insight into your current eating habits.
- Nitrogen balance: This helps to determine if your body is using protein properly by measuring protein loss.
Personalized Meal Plans
Adequate protein, calories and high-nutritive foods are essential during this time. As part of your care plan, your dietitian will recommend dietary options specific to you. The goal is to complement your traditional cancer treatments with the fortifying effects of nutrition support. Your dietitian will assess your daily goals for calories and protein, and make suggestions as to how you can best support these goals with foods of high nutritive value.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation
Vitamin and mineral supplements provide nutrients that your diet may not, and offer a boost where illness may have depleted your body. Your dietitian may recommend supplements to replenish deficiencies, enhance wound healing and reduce toxic side effects. Every cancer patient's needs are different, but your dietitian may recommend daily dosages of various nutrients, including:
- Vitamin C
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Vitamin D
Many of the supplements we recommend at CTCA hospitals come from our own line of 70 highly-pure and potent nutritional supplements. CNCA supplements are science-based and abide by rigorous quality standards. These supplements were designed specifically with input from medical professionals to meet the needs of patients with compromised immune systems.
In addition to making dietary suggestions and helping design meal plans, our nutrition team provides continued support through education, including programs and classes on the relationship between a healthy diet and wellness. We empower you with information and guide you in maintaining proper nutrition. Western also offers a weekly nutrition class and a monthly cooking class. These classes feature presentations on cooking with herbs, protein and calorie supplements, nutrition and cancer, superfoods, immune boosting foods, healthful cooking, and more.
Should you require nutrition support, the dietitians from the nutrition team at Western, along with a physician, nurse, and pharmacist, will work closely with you to make sure you receive proper nourishment. If you are unable to eat or digest food, we will provide nutrition parenterally (through a vein) or enterally (though a feeding tube).
Collaboration with the Culinary Team
With seven years of experience at CTCA, Director of Nutrition at Western, Sharon Day, knows the impact a proper diet can have during a person’s fight with cancer. She explains, “Diet is one risk factor that patients can grab hold of. A diagnosis of cancer can create losses. Choosing foods that are higher in nutritive value is one way that patients can feel empowered.”
Unlike many other cancer treatment facilities, Western dietitians work closely with our chefs to select ingredients high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. According to Western's Executive Chef, Frank Caputo, “Our emphasis is on providing high quality foods that promote health and wellness. We work with local vendors when available to obtain local organic produce. We choose a variety of whole grains, limit excess fat, sugar, and salt, while emphasizing the natural flavors in food. All of our items are prepared from scratch.”
If you have special dietary needs or want a dish that is not scheduled on the daily menu, Chef Frank Caputo will accommodate you. Providing patients with their favorite comfort foods is one example of our Mother Standard® of care in action.
Another unique feature of our cafeteria is our fresh juice and smoothie bar. Many patients choose to drink juices or need smoothies to supplement their daily requirement for calories and protein. Patients and their caregivers can visit the bar for a wide selection of freshly made juices prepared to order.
Sometimes cancer treatment affects taste buds. The culinary team at CTCA at Western uses spices and herbs pleasing to the patient’s palette. “Rallying the team to support patient care includes the culinary team! Chef Caputo and I will schedule a joint meeting with patients and their caregivers to review food options and create ideas for meals that are pleasing to the palette,” Day explains.
Part of a Team
Dietitians specializing in oncology are one component of the comprehensive care team at Western. All of the departments come together and meet multiple times every week to discuss each patient's progress and treatment plan. If your dietitian recognizes deficiencies or other concerns, your oncologist and your entire team are available to listen and adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
"The collaboration with the other departments is ongoing. This includes everyone from the conventional therapies such as radiation, surgery, and medical oncology to others in complementary medicine such as naturopathic physicians, mind-body medicine therapists, and physical therapists. We rally out team around each patient every day.” Day states.
Our team approach allows for thorough patient support. Managing side effects from treatment may involve medications from the physician and may also include diet change recommendations or supplements from the dietitian, recommendations from the naturopathic physicians, interventions by the acupuncturist, and massage therapy. As Day puts it, "Together we are better."
Follow-up Nutrition Care
Your nutritional needs during and after cancer treatment will likely be very different. As part of the CTCA Survivorship Support Program, your dietitian offers suggestions regarding how to maintain a healthful, well-balanced diet at home after finishing your cancer treatment. Your dietitian can help you with meal planning, grocery shopping tips, and diet and lifestyle changes that can help to support your overall wellness.