It is important to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs. Some habits can help with side effects.

Cancer treatment, including treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), can change the way you feel. It may leave you with severe fatigue and take a toll on your immune system.

Handling food safely and eating foods that help your body get the vitamins and minerals you need are included in nutrition guidance for CML.

One way to feel better is to make sure you are getting enough calories and vitamins.

Why is nutrition important for CML?

Many people find that cancer treatment makes it hard to eat.

Maintaining proper nutrition can be difficult when you have side effects such as nausea. The body needs energy to deal with cancer treatment.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), your body may need extra protein and calories during and after cancer treatment.

In addition, treatment for blood cancers like CML can result in lower white blood cell counts and damage to the lining of the gut.

The risk of infections increases with these effects. It is important to eat good food and do it safely.

Eating changes are common during cancer treatment.

According to recommendations from an expert group from the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, these changes can lead to malnutrition and cause excessive weight loss and loss of lean body mass.

It is important to get enough calories to maintain your weight. A balanced diet with plenty of water can help prevent weight gain.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers these general guidelines for foods to eat:

  • A variety of vegetables.
  • Whole fruits.
  • whole grains
  • “It’s either fat-free or low fat.”
  • A variety of meat and fish are included.
  • Like olive oil, healthy oils.
  • If you experience acid reflux, you should drink decaffeinated tea or coffee.

The NCI also offers a list of specific foods you can try when you experience symptoms like nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. Foods that may be easy on the stomach include:

  • There is an item called an “avocado.”
  • canned fruit
  • tender beef cuts.
  • Mild and hard cheeses.
  • Eggs.
  • Chicken or turkey without skin.
  • Consuming fish that has been broiled or poached.
  • nut butters.
  • plain yogurt
  • Vegetables are well-cooked.

Eating foods high in fiber may help if you have weight gain. High fiber foods include:

  • muffins with bran
  • dried fruit
  • Whole grain cereals.
  • There is broccoli.
  • There is a vegetable called spinach.
  • sweet potatoes.

Eating foods low in fiber may help if you have scurvy. Low fiber foods can be found.

  • It was like cream of rice and instant oatmeal.
  • fish
  • There are noodles.
  • The juice from vegetables.
  • string beans
  • mushrooms

A dietitian can help you find the best foods for you and your situation, especially when you feel different because of CML treatment or are in the later stages of recovery.

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that help lead the body’s immune system response. Neutropenia, a term to describe low neutrophil levels, can occur as a result of certain CML treatments.

Follow food safety practices that prevent exposure to harmful organisms in food if you have low neutrophil levels.

The LLS recommends that people who are immunocompromised follow safe food handling practices. This involves avoiding:

  • All vegetables are raw.
  • Most fruits have a thick peel.
  • It can be raw or rare meat.
  • The fish is not cooked.
  • uncooked or undercooked Eggs.
  • Most of the foods are from salad bars.
  • Blue-veined cheeses, like Camembert, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort, are soft and mold-ripened.
  • “The water hasn’t been boiled for a while.”
  • Unpasteurized dairy products.

Some people may have heard of a specific “neutropenic diet.” According to the LLS, there’s never been a universal list of foods to include or avoid on this diet, and there’s no evidence the diet actually benefits people.

Researchers in a 2019 review of six studies concluded there was no evidence to support a neutropenic diet for people with cancer, although it’s important to follow safe food handling practices.

It is important to avoid raw or undercooked foods if you are experiencing neutropenia.

The NCI also recommends avoiding the following foods if you have diarrhea:

  • high fiber foods
  • high sugar foods
  • greasy or fat foods.
  • Milk products.
  • spicy food
  • Sugar-free products with sugar.

You may also want to avoid certain dietary supplements, such as St. John’s wort, as they may interfere with some medications. You can discuss these with your doctor in regard to your specific treatment.

Side effects of CML treatment include nausea and mouth sores. It can be hard to eat.

Here are some tips from the NCI that may make eating easier:

  • Eat frequently. Instead of two or three big meals, opt for four to six smaller meals a day.
  • If you have trouble swallowing solid food, drink soups, juices, and shakes.
  • Sip on water, ginger ale, and other clear liquids to prevent dehydration and ease nausea.
  • Add calories by mixing soups and foods with high calories liquids.
  • Cook until the food is tender.
  • If treatment has changed your taste, try different recipes.
  • Ask for help with grocery shopping.

A person with cancer who is trained in working with nutrition may be able to give advice on how to make eating easier while on treatment.

Handling food is important. It is more so during cancer treatment because of the possible compromised immune system.

The following important food safety tips from the LLS can help you safely prepare and eat foods, and lower your risk of infection or illness caused by food.

Food storage

  • Before eating, check the dates on the food.
  • All food must be refrigerated within 2 hours of purchase.
  • You can eat leftovers within 3 days.

Food preparation and cooking

  • Before and after food preparation, wash your hands.
  • Before eating or peeling fruits and vegetables, rinse them.
  • Remove damaged or bruised fruits and vegetables.
  • The outer leaves of cabbage should be discarded.
  • Do not use dishes or utensils for eating that has been touched by animals.
  • “Don’t thaw frozen meat on the counter. The microwave or fridge is better.”
  • The meat should be cooked to a proper temperature using a meat thermometer.

Kitchen hygiene

  • Keep the kitchen and bathroom clean.
  • “Do not wash dish towels if you don’t want to get grease on them.”
  • Sponges and dishcloths should be washed and cleaned frequently to removebacteria.
  • All surfaces that have come in contact with meat, fish, or poultry should be washed.

The Partnership for Food Safety also recommends separating foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Eating healthy foods can help you feel better and give you strength for treatment and recovery, even though food is not a treatment for cancer.

Speak with a doctor or a nutrition expert about any special instructions or considerations for your CML and nutrition needs.