BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) --Louise Keilwitz and John Westfall have battled cancer and are fighting to put weight on, as the effects of chemo and radiation have taken its toll.
"I need to gain some weight for the chemo, which is very hard on your body," Keilwitz said.
"Impossible. Painful to eat just about anything," Westfall explained.
Fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite make it much harder for cancer patients to get the nutrition that's so vital for them.
"You want the protein, you want the fiber, you want the right kind of fats, and of course the vitamins and minerals, so that you can be strong to fight through this," said dietitian Remy Heustis of the Disney Family Cancer Center.
Heustis suggests eggs and garbanzo beans as good protein sources, healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, seeds and nut butters, and of course, lots of produce. But since it's difficult to eat, she suggests dried fruits, juicing, smoothies and cooked veggies to sneak nutrients in without creating fullness.
Then there are stories online about foods rumored to be harmful, like soy, sugar, and acid forming foods. Often what you see on the internet about cancer can be frightening. That's why Heustis offers a class called "Diet Myths and Cancer Controversies."
"I want to try to debunk a lot of those myths out there. There's so much and it's creating fear and confusion, or false hope," she said.
Heustis points to sugar for instance.
"Sugar feeds every cell in our body, that part is true, but why not choose sugars that have a high nutrient value," Heustis explained.
Say "no" to processed foods, "yes" to sugar from fruits, vegetables and fibrous starches in proper quantity. For soy, Heustis likes tofu, edamame and milk, in its most natural form.
But Heustis said to keep in mind that if eating certain foods is causing fear, it's going to create stress, so focus on other foods then.
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