Cancer Treatment and Fatigue

Fighting Fatigue

Carli Hill, RD, CSO

Fatigue “is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatment”. (WebMD) Causes and/or contributing factors to cancer-related fatigue include: cancer itself, stress, nutritional depletion, lack of exercise, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, muscle wasting, diarrhea, dehydration, infection, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and anemia. Here are some tips to help fight fatigue:

  • Be physically active for 30 minutes per day since exercise shows the strongest evidence of benefit for fatigue (check with your doctor before starting an exercise program)
  • Get plenty of protein (dairy foods, meat, and eggs are especially rich in protein)
  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Mix protein with carbohydrates at lunch, choosing at least 1 serving of protein rich foods and 3 servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • Drink plenty of water (a minimum of 8 cups per day or 64 oz). Increase this amount if you are vomiting or have diarrhea
  • Limit caffeinated beverages to 3 servings or less and avoid drinking tea and coffee with meals as they can reduce iron absorption
  • Don’t eat sugar by itself and limit intake to less than 10% of total calories
  • Eat several small meals/snacks throughout the day (eating about every 4 hours)
  • Consume appropriate amounts of iron-rich foods and take an iron supplement if advised by your doctor
  • Make sure you are eating at least 1200 calories each day
  • If you are unable to consistently eat a balance diet, consider a quality multivitamin (but first check with your doctor)
  • Keep a journal to help identify when you are most tired, energized, or in the best and worst moods (pay attention to what precedes these highs and lows)
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night

For more tips for fighting fatigue, visit WebMD.

Leave a Reply