Registered dieticians, are experts in dietetics, which means understanding the nutrients in food that are necessary for good health. Proper nutrition is an essential part of living well during and after cancer treatment and dieticians can help children to eat properly for their specific conditions.
Cancer patients and food
As your child progresses through cancer treatment their appetite will change and they may also experience changes in taste. Some foods may have a metallic taste or they may not want to eat foods they previously liked. As they experience these changes they also may like the taste of foods they haven't tried before.
A dietician can work with a child's medical team to set nutrition goals to help get the best possible treatment outcomes. They can help the child solve problems such as providing hints on taking food when nauseated or lacking in appetite. When a child has a poor appetite, a dietician might try behavioural hints such as making meals smaller or suggesting the consumption of nutrition in a different form, such as in a milkshake, if this suits their individual needs. Often dieticians build a meal plan that the child finds appetising, and that is dense in calories, to help with weight loss.
Keeping a healthy weight
The effects of cancer and treatment on appetite vary for each child. As a parent you may be reassured that most children gain weight after they finish treatment. Some children may gain weight at an unhealthy rate and need physical activity and a balanced nutritional diet to help them adjust. Your child's health care team, which can include a dietician, can help with this.
A balanced and healthy diet includes:
Bread, whole grains, cereals
Milk and dairy products
Meat, fish and poultry and nuts
The benefits of healthy choices after cancer
Children who have had treatment for cancer can have a lot to gain from making healthy choices about food and exercise including:
Building strength and energy levels
Helping tissues and organs to heal that were damaged by the cancer and treatment
Reducing the risk of developing certain types of adult cancers and diseases
Reducing the risk of long-term complications from cancer treatment
Feeling healthy and emotionally well
To make an appointment as an outpatient you need a referral from a Hospital medical officer or paediatrician with admitting rights to the Hospital. Once you have a referral you can call the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at the Hospital to make an appointment.