The holidays present special challenges for those living with stomach cancer. Here are ways to support them:
As we approach the holiday season, one of the main focuses aside from spending time with family and friends is gathering around for festive meals. Unfortunately, those suffering from stomach cancer may be unable to enjoy the traditional feast as much as they would like. According to gicancer.org, stomach cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer worldwide and the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths (gicancer.org).
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute provides recommendations as to how to accommodate those suffering from this condition. This begins with a balanced diet. Certain aspects of this diet should be adjusted to help ensure that enough food is being digested and absorbed despite the cancer. Meats, such as chicken and beef are high in fiber. This is naturally more difficult for the body to digest and made even more difficult with stomach cancer. Replace these options with less fibrous lean meats such as fish. This will allow the stomach to obtain all the required nutrients without complications.
When eating fruits, stomach cancer patients should opt for softer fruits that are lower in fiber (Institute, 2016). Fruits in this category include watermelon, canned fruits (like peaches), cantaloupe, and nectarines. Again, this reduces the amount of fiber the stomach is required to digest. It makes the process easier removing and outer skin or shells.
Healthy eating habits sometimes take a back seat in the holiday season. However, that is no reason to ignore the impact of processed foods. Meats such as those you buy from your local deli, bacon, and sausage all contain added ingredients that can be difficult for those living with stomach cancer. Additionally, other processed foods such as sodas, candy, and packaged snack foods can also worsen symptoms such as indigestion. Replacements for these snacks can include liquids like smoothies, which can help you feel full quicker without causing irritation.
Another helpful tip from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is eating additional, smaller meals throughout the day. “Many people with stomach cancer experience a loss of appetite or gastrointestinal discomfort, and eating smaller meals can help,” the institute says (Institute, 2016). “Instead of having three larger meals, try eating six small meals a day and maintaining an adequate caloric intake by adding calorie-dense foods.”
In conclusion, just because you or someone you know may be fighting stomach cancer doesn’t mean the holidays can’t include delicious food. These small adjustments can allow for continuing fun around the dinner table for everyone.
November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. For idea on how to help raise awareness for stomach cancer, visit: nostomachforcancer.org/