What are some summertime nutrition tips for Cancer Patients?

Melanie Logue, MS, RDN

Summertime provides some unique nutrition opportunities and challenges when it comes to nutrition. As temperatures rise, we need to pay close attention to our health through a balanced diet, replenishing lost fluid and practicing food safety.

Continue to consume unprocessed meats during the summer months, when foods such as hot dogs are commonly consumed. Chicken, turkey, and fish are a few great options. Eat vegetables and berries- rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Switch out refreshing foods that are high in sugar, like ice cream, for frozen yogurt or fresh fruit smoothies. You can also use fresh or frozen fruit as a topping for your frozen yogurt.

Hydration during the summer months is very important. Aim for six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid daily and replace lost electrolytes with natural sports drinks that are low in sugar. It can be helpful to have a water bottle with you at all times and sip throughout the day. Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as cucumbers, peaches and pineapple. Watermelon and other types of melons are great options, too. Caffeine can cause dehydration. Ice water with fruit, sparkling water, coconut water, and unsweetened iced teas are good replacements for coffee and sugary drinks.

Also be sure to practice food safety! As always, be sure to properly wash fruits and vegetables, and be sure to practice proper hand hygiene. It is also important to avoid cross contamination when preparing foods, especially involving raw meat. Particularly in the warmer summer temperatures, bacteria that can cause food poisoning grow quickly. 40–140°F (5–60°C) is the ideal temperature for the growth of bacteria. Keep perishable items refrigerated or stored on ice and refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of eating outdoors.

Summer is a great time to be active but it is advised to be outdoors earlier in the day, or after sunset. Wearing light- colored, lightweight clothing will help keep you cool. Having a water bottle on hand will help to keep you hydrated. And of course, do not forget to wear your sunscreen, and reapply often. If you have questions consider joining us for the next Healthy Eating and Activity for Living class on July 13th. The class seating is limited; please register at 805.219.HOPE (4673).

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org