01. Meeting With Your Dietitian
Preparing for Your First Session With a Cancer Dietitian
Diet and nutrition may play an important role in your cancer treatment and recovery process. Cancer dietitians can help you with your nutritional needs. They may be able to recommend foods that support cancer patients’ overall health and well-being.
A cancer dietitian can help you navigate new dietary and appetite constraints, make meal plans and manage certain symptoms. Your cancer center may have dietitians on staff. If not, your oncologist may be able to recommend a local dietitian.
If you’ve never been to a dietitian, it can be challenging to know what to ask. And adding in the flurry of emotions and questions surrounding a diagnosis can make it more difficult. We’ve compiled a list of printable questions with room for notes to help you make the most of your appointment. Any cancer patient can use these questions, not just those affected by mesothelioma.
Information to Tell Your Dietitian
Gathering information ahead of time can help your dietitian understand your needs and concerns. A customized diet may help alleviate cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. So, we recommend compiling a list of the concerns you’re dealing with to help you remember everything during your appointment.
Our printable list has sections for your notes about your diagnosis and treatment. In the diagnosis details section, you may want to include information like your type of cancer, date of diagnosis and cancer stage. Under treatment details, we’ve included common types of cancer treatment, plus room for you to write in specific details.
Dietary changes may also help you with certain common cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. We recommend listing out anything that’s been bothering you lately so your dietitian can review your needs and help tailor your diet to help address them. They can then recommend the best foods for during and after treatment.
|1. Diagnosis details
|2. Cancer treatment status
|3. Treatment details
02. General Questions
General Questions for Your Dietitian
During your first meeting with your dietitian, it can be helpful to ask some general questions to find out more about how they can help. Asking these questions may feel a bit like an interrogation at first, but any good dietitian will be able to answer them.
It’s important that you feel comfortable with your care team, so don’t hesitate to voice any concerns. Be honest about reservations you might have, including those about sticking to or paying for your new diet. Dietitians can often provide tips on how to deal with these concerns.
|1. Have you worked with my type of cancer before?
|2. Why is nutrition important for cancer patients?
|3. How can a good diet help me during and after treatment?
|4. Will you create recipes for me?
|5. How often will we meet?
03. Overarching Diet Questions
Questions About How Your New Diet Will Work
Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about what you should and shouldn’t eat. Cancer dietitians have heard it all and are well-versed in any concerns you might have. Be as direct as you like, and don’t feel like you’re asking the wrong things.
|6. What foods should I avoid?
|7. What foods can help fight cancer?
|8. Can certain foods lower my risk of the cancer spreading or coming back?
|9. How strict will I need to be with my diet?
|10. Will I have to change how often I eat?
|11. Will I have to cut out any foods completely?
|12. What can my caregivers, friends and family do to help?
You should also feel free to ask any questions about food terms you’re not familiar with. Dietitians may mention terms like antioxidants and phytochemicals. Clearing up any confusion can help you understand your diet and the goals your dietitian is helping you achieve.
04. Food-Specific Questions
Questions About How to Incorporate Foods Into Your Diet
Your dietitian may give you specific goals for things like protein and fluid intake. If you’re unfamiliar with this kind of diet, it can be helpful to ask extra questions. This can help you and your care team be on the same page.
|13. Are organic foods better?
|14. Will I have to become vegetarian or vegan?
|15. Are there benefits of following a specific type of diet, like keto or the Budwig diet?
|16. What are good sources of protein?
|17. How can I add fiber to my diet?
|18. Is vitamin D important?
|19. Does sugar cause cancer?
|20. Will I have to cut out red meat?
|21. How can I increase my fluid intake without feeling uncomfortable from drinking too much water?
|22. Are there any dietary supplements I should take?
05. Cancer Symptom & Nutrition Questions
Questions About Managing Cancer Symptoms
You can also ask questions about how to manage your specific symptoms. This is where you can discuss your symptoms in depth with your dietitian and see if they can recommend foods to help. Below are a few questions about common cancer symptoms your dietitian may be able to help you with.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms nutrition may help with. Please supplement these questions with any other symptoms and side effects you may be feeling. We’ve added a customizable question at the end of the list to help with this.
|23. How can I increase my appetite?
|24. How can I manage my nausea?
|25. What foods can I eat to reduce some of my symptoms (e.g., constipation and indigestion)?
|26. Is there a healthy way to gain weight again?
|27. I’m experiencing [insert symptom]. Can diet help?
With these questions, you and your dietitian can work towards your health and well-being.
Additional Support for Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma’s rarity may mean that your dietitian hasn’t worked with your type of cancer before. This doesn’t mean you can’t work with them. Dietitians who have worked with similar cancers, like lung cancer, may be able to help.
While discussing your diet, it’s important to highlight your specific needs and challenges. For example, some common mesothelioma treatment side effects that proper diet may help with include:
- Dental or gum problems
- Dry mouth
- Feeling full too early
- Lactose intolerance
- Loss of appetite
- Sore mouth or throat
- Taste changes
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
Candidly discussing these side effects may lead to an increase in your comfort and outlook. Even if you’re not sure the cancer or treatment caused something you’re struggling with, it can’t hurt to bring it up.
- A mesothelioma cancer center database
- A mesothelioma specialist database
- Information on using health insurance for cancer treatment
- Guidance on questions to ask your mesothelioma doctor
- State-by-state cancer resources – Just click on your state and scroll to “Support Services”
These resources can help you learn more about how to navigate your diagnosis and treatment.