How to Manage Food Anxiety When You Have Cancer

August 28, 2019
Claire Smith, ASCO staff

Being diagnosed with cancer can bring up many difficult emotions, including fear and guilt. In addition, symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment can often make eating or enjoying food challenging. As a result, some people with cancer may start to experience anxiety around food and eating.share on twitter In this podcast, registered dietitians Julie Lanford and Debra Benfield talk about this experience, sometimes called “food anxiety,” and offer practical tips to help people with cancer overcome it.

  • What is food anxiety? [3:08]

  • What are some of the reasons that people with cancer might develop food anxiety? [4:25]

  • How can guilt and fear lead to food anxiety? [6:41]

  • Why can an overly restrictive diet cause problems during cancer treatment?  [8:50]

  • Why do people often experience food anxiety right after a cancer diagnosis? [10:08]

  • Can there be a link between the stress of a cancer diagnosis and the patient’s body, mental health, and food? [11:54]

  • What are some ways people can cope with different types of food anxiety? [15:18]

  • Why is it important to tell your health care team about side effects like diarrhea or constipation? [15:55]

  • What should family caregivers keep in mind when they are cooking for someone with cancer? [16:38]

  • How can you respond to unwanted advice about food? [18:09]

  • How can you evaluate nutrition information, and find reliable sources? [18:50]

  • When should you seek the help of a dietitian? [23:00]

Julie Lanford is a registered dietitian with Cancer Services in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Debra Benfield is a Master’s Level Nutritionist as well as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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