Surviving cancer is a remarkable accomplishment. The recovery process can be long and daunting depending on the duration and intensity of your cancer treatment. But even after the last treatment is over, the journey to stay healthy doesn’t end.
Part of cancer recovery involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle — that way, you can enjoy your years to come. This includes maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are some simple tips for managing your health as a cancer survivor.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Cancer Survivors
Reach a Healthy Weight
During cancer treatment, you can gain or lose weight. It’s key to get your weight back to a healthy zone after your treatment is over. Discuss your healthy weight range with your doctor and they will provide suggestions as well as benchmark goals for you to strive for, such as when you should aim to be at your healthy weight.
In some cases, speaking with a dietician will also help you reach a healthy weight after cancer treatment. Often, cancer survivors may find that food isn’t appealing after treatment — and if weight gain is necessary, devising strategies with a dietician will help. Health care professionals can advise you on treating nausea, pain, or other cancer treatment side effects that are impacting your nutrition.
For cancer survivors, losing weight to reach a healthy range should be done gradually with a combination of diet and exercise. See our tips below for more on this process.
The American Cancer Society has specific dietary recommendations for cancer survivors to keep a healthy weight:
- Consume 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day. We suggest varying the types you eat so that you don’t get tired of the same sides.
- Opt for healthy fats. Avoid saturated or trans fats and instead go for omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish and nuts. Other great options that are low in saturated fat include lean proteins, eggs, seeds, and legumes.
- Eat healthy carbohydrate sources. These include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Though some diets or vitamin and mineral plans promise to prevent cancer from returning, there is no hard evidence to suggest that these regimens actually work. In fact, overconsumption of some nutrients can actually hurt you. Always consult your doctor before going on a supplement or multivitamin.
Exercising on a regular basis not only lowers cancer risk – it also speeds cancer treatment recovery. As a cancer survivor, you’ll experience the following thanks to physical activity:
- Improved strength and endurance
- Lower risk of depression and less anxiety
- Increased energy and less fatigue
- Renewed self-confidence
- Reduced risk of cancer recurrence
You don’t have to jump back into physical activity head first. Ease into your routine by adding short walks to your day or opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Discuss your exercise plans with your doctor and get their advice on the duration and intensity of your exercise regimen. The American Cancer Society suggests at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 or more days a week.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel up to exercising on certain days. Cancer treatment can have lasting side effects such as fatigue and nausea. If your side effects are flaring up, just do what you can.