There are a few things that can be crucial in your fight against cancer. One is the will to fight hard till you win, the second is a great treatment plan, and the third is a great diet plan.
A diet plan helps you keep your body nourished and strong enough to withstand a powerful cancer treatment. It also helps you reduce the side-effects of cancer treatment like nausea, constipation, fatigue etc.
Should I change my diet during cancer treatment?
You will find many online resources that advocate the ‘best’ cancer diet. They may advise you to shift to a mediterranean diet, or a vegan diet. But the reality is that cancer patients often struggle to eat even their most favourite foods during treatment, and switching over to an unfamiliar diet maynot be the best option at this time.
We recommend that you continue with the cuisine that you prefer, rather than add the additional stress of preparing and consuming foods that you are not used to.
However, it is good to make some healthy choices within that cuisine. In our meal plan, we include high-protein and high-calorie dishes from the Bengali cuisine to ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements.
Is a vegetarian diet better than a non-vegetarian diet during cancer treatment?
One way of answering this is that you can continue eating non-vegetarian food if you are used to it. If you are a vegetarian, then you can continue that form of diet.
The important thing is to ensure that you get sufficient proteins in your diet. Non-vegetarian foods like eggs, chicken and fish are very high in proteins and help you complete your protein goals more easily.
With vegetarian foods, you will need to consume larger amounts of lentils and beans than what you normally do, to be able to complete your protein goals each day. Other foods like cheese and milk can also help with this.
If you are following a vegetarian diet, you will need to be more careful about the protein intake, but it is possible to have a high-protein vegetarian diet through proper planning.
For non-vegetarians, processed meats and red meat are best avoided.
What Bengali foods are best avoided during cancer treatment?
Every cuisine has some dishes which are prepared from refined flour, or are deep fried. Such foods tend to be low in fibre and may bring down the overall nutritive value of the meal.
Such foods (foods made from maida, or deep fried) are best avoided.
In Bengali cuisine, puris are relatively common. These are usually made from refined flour (maida) and are deep fried. Try to look for healthier replacements like rotis or parathas made of whole grains like wheat. Similarly, try to substitute deep fried fish with steamed or curried fish.
Having said that, on days when you are struggling to eat, if you crave something like this, please don’t deny yourself completely. Just balance it off with the next meal, and always ensure you are taking plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits as well.
Extremely spicy foods may not go well for patients with mouth ulcers. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy may have certain side effects involving the mouth and tongue. It’s safer to go for mild levels of spices and serve the food at room temperature. Very hot foods may also cause nausea in some patients.
Bengali (Non-vegetarian) Indian Meal Plan
We are running a series of blog articles on meal plans for different cuisines, so that you can continue to eat familiar foods, while also ensuring the right amount of calories and nutrition for your body.
The meal plan in this article is for those who are from the West Bengal, Tripura and Assam’s Barak Valley regions and prefer eating this cuisine during and after their cancer treatment. Bangladeshis may also find this cuisine familiar.
For each dish mentioned in the meal plan, you can find the recipe by downloading the PDF version and clicking on the dish name.
Most of the recipes are for multiple servings, so you may need to adjust the quantity of the ingredients as well as the level of spice to suit your taste.
Here is the weekly meal plan for a non-vegetarian who prefers the Bengali cuisine:
You can also download a PDF version of this meal plan here: Indian Meal Plan
You will be able to click on each dish and get the recipe using the PDF version.
If you are looking for a vegetarian meal plan, one of these options may work for you: