About Nutritional Support
Adjustments to diet and physical activity can help cancer patients maintain strength, combat symptoms, and fight fatigue. At UT Health Austin’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes, a registered dietitian works with patients and their loved ones to develop personalized nutrition plans. These plans provide specific nutritional information to help patients make informed decisions about preparing meals while offering flexibility and choices depending on how patients are feeling on any given day.
Who should receive nutritional support
All cancer patients should consider nutritional support from time of diagnosis through treatment and beyond regardless of age, stage, or prognosis.
The goal of nutritional support is to help patients achieve comfort, capability, and calm. Our oncology dietitian personalizes nutrition plans to the specific needs of each patient, which may change throughout their cancer journey.
What nutritional support looks like
Nutritional support varies depending on a patient’s type of cancer. For instance, our oncology dietitian will develop specific recommendations for gastrointestinal cancer patients based on the dietary needs or restrictions of their disease and treatment. For head and neck cancer patients, who may experience difficulty eating or swallowing, the oncology dietitian works with patients and their loved ones on determining the best sources of nutrition.
Our oncology dietitian coordinates care with the patient’s medical oncologist, advanced practice provider, and other providers so that the entire care team is aware of the patient’s needs and preferences. Our care team works with patients to address all of their needs to include physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.
What nutritional support is not
Nutritional support is not about rigid dietary restrictions. Diet should not be regarded as a cure for cancer, but rather a tool to support cancer treatment and the overall nutritional status of a patient. Nutritional support is integrated with our comprehensive approach to cancer treatment. Oncology dietitians are trained on the specific nutritional needs of cancer patients and work to meet patients where they are in their cancer journey. The goal of nutritional support is to help patients build strength, combat fatigue, and minimize symptoms and side effects through informed food choices.