Feelings of fatigue are very common among cancer patients. Fatigue is more than just feeling tired, it is feeling tired all the time, even after rest! Certain cancer treatments, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, impaired immune system and depression can all lead to feelings of fatigue. Be sure to talk with your healthcare team about your fatigue to find out if there are some things that can be done to help improve it.
Have small, frequent meals. Try 4-6 mini-meals/day instead of 3 large meals.
Balance carbohydrate and protein at each meal and snack. This will help keep a stable blood sugar level which will help your energy level. Foods high in healthy carbohydrates include grains, starches, fruits, milk and yogurt. Protein foods include eggs, nuts, beans, cheese, chicken, fish, meat, milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. Here are some snack combination examples:
Protein and Fat + Carbohydrate
- Cheese and whole grain crackers or apple slices
- Nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter) and banana, apple slices, or whole grain crackers
- Cottage cheese and pineapple, berries, whole grain crackers or tomato slices
- Hummus and whole grain pita bread or cucumber slices
- Nuts and dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dates)
Make sure you are getting plenty of fluids! Dehydration can actually make you feel fatigued.
Eat when you feel best. Many cancer patients feel better in the morning so be sure to optimize your intake then and then have small snacks and mini-meals the rest of the day.
Get some exercise, if able. Studies have actually shown that being physically active can help improve feelings of fatigue!
Take frequent, short rests.
Allow family and friends to help you with preparing meals and snacks.
If you are preparing foods, make extra portions and freeze or refrigerate to eat on days when you are feeling fatigued.