Has all the festive feasting got you feeling a little Bah-Humbug about the holiday season? You’re not alone. Food can bring up many challenges for someone with upper gastrointestinal cancer. We’re here with some tips to help put a little joy back into your world this festive season.
OnCore Nutrition’s top tips for navigating the festive season:
- Plan ahead. Don’t be afraid to ask what’s on the menu at social occasions or for things to be modified to accommodate you. Your loved ones will want to ensure everyone can enjoy the festivities so let them know your dietary needs and offer some ideas on foods and drinks you can comfortably enjoy.
- Bring a plate. Have some things frozen or packaged options on hand so you can bring something along that you know you can enjoy. While you might have a different meal to others, you can focus your energy on being present and enjoying the company and connection.
- Accept help. One of my favourite quotes from a beautiful book is:
‘What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?”
“Help. Asking for help isn’t giving up, it’s refusing to give up.”
The festive season is a time of giving and your loved ones may wish to show their care with meals that are suitable for you.
- If you’re dining out, call ahead and explore the menu for suitable options. Many restaurants and cafes will have their menus available online. Speak to staff about modifications so you can enjoy something with confidence.
- If unsure, don’t go hungry. Perhaps an iced chocolate, smoothie, or a supplement or snack from your handbag will nourish you and keep you feeling included at a festive event. Consider a festive cup or bowl to keep spirits bright!
- Be mindful of food safety if you’re having chemotherapy. Some things to look out for and avoid are deli meats, soft cheeses, raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, eggs (cue eggnog), soft serve ice cream and pre-packaged salads.
For more information on food safety and hygiene, follow this link.
- You know you! Follow your gut-instinct. Trust that your body will be able to tell you when you feel like eating a 3-course meal, or when you might feel satisfied with the entree serve. Your mind and body are incredibly smart and can guide you in the right direction. The holiday season is not a time to be judgmental and rigid about your food choices, but rather a time to be present and enjoy spending time with loved ones.
- While Santa might be judging whether you have been naughty or nice, he does not judge your food, and neither should you! There is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, we can enjoy them all irrespective of preconceived ideas. If you choose to enjoy the cheese platter, the kugel and the pavlova with cream, embrace your decision, savour each mouthful and never look back.
- Keep up your appointments with your healthcare team to monitor your nutritional status. This might include your dietitian reviewing your weight, food and fluid intake and blood test results and adjusting your nutrition plan to keep you well.
- Remember that food is far more than just nutrition. It’s family, community, celebration, joy and pleasure, connection, friendship, culture, religion, nostalgia and so many other important things that extend far beyond vitamins and minerals. So if all that you can manage at Christmas lunch is a sip of Eggnog or a nibble of turkey, pavlova or pudding, then make sure you lap up all of this other goodness that the festive season brings!
Where possible, find a way to stay connected and keep well-nourished and hydrated.
If you would like support in navigating the festive season and beyond, book an appointment or a free 15 minute consult with an OnCore Nutrition oncology dietitian today. Email [email protected] or phone 0435 464 778 for support.
AdvAPD | Co-Director | Senior Oncology Dietitian
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