( By Dr.(Mrs.) Nandini Sarwate )

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Food contributes much to the quality of our lives and is more than just a physical need. Meal times are an important enjoyable part of family and social life.

Many people with cancer experience eating problems. This section is divided into four parts and is intended to help you overcome these difficulties.

Part One, The building-up diet is a diet high in energy and protein and has been designed specifically for people with cancer who have lost, or are losing, weight or can only manage to eat a little. This diet is not recommended for people with cancer who are eating well and have not lost weight.

Part Two, Eating problems has helpful hints for people with cancer who have eating problems caused by their disease or treatment. For example, you may be feeling sick, have mouth ulcers or be too tired to cook a meal.

Part Three, A healthy eating guide is for people with cancer who do not have eating or weight loss problems, but would like to follow a healthy diet.

Part Four, Information on alternative diets discusses whether alternative or complementary diets can be helpful, or not, for people who have cancer. Information on diet as part of complementary therapy is included in the booklet ‘Cancer and complementary therapies’. If you find it hard to discuss your eating problems with your family or friends, you may like to show them this booklet so they can help you with your diet.

If you have any problems that are not covered by this booklet, please do not hesitate to discuss these with your doctor, nurse or dietitian.

If you have any problems with your diet you can ask to be referred to a dietitian at your hospital. Dietitians are experts in assessing dietary needs for people who are ill and they can review your diet. They can advise you on which foods are best for you to eat and also whether any food supplements would be helpful in your situation.

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