Book Review: What To Eat During Cancer Treatment

What to Eat During Cancer Treatment:
More Than130 Recipes to Help You Cope

2nd Edition By Jeanne Besser and Barbara L. Grant, MS, RDN, CSO,
2019, American Cancer Society Hardcover, 276 pages, $29.95

After a diagnosis of cancer sinks in, a common concern for many patients is what they should eat. Family and friends often advise them to consume foods that purportedly cure cancer, while patients with a dire desire to grasp at any hope for recovery may readily agree. What to Eat During Cancer Treatment offers clear and accurate information on nourishment throughout the disease process along with 130 appetizing yet simple recipes.

This has become the most popular cookbook published by the American Cancer Society, cowritten by Jeanne Besser, author of numerous healthful eating cookbooks, and Barbara L. Grant, MS, RDN, CSO—a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and outpatient dietitian at Saint Alphonsus Cancer Care Center in Boise, Idaho.

The second edition has been updated and expanded to include advice for caregivers. It’s a clear and concise compendium divided into three convenient sections: “What You Need To Know,” “Recipes,” and a new section, “After Treatment: Eating Well, Staying Well.” The text is laid out in short paragraphs and lists of basic, practical information, without bogging down the patient or caregiver with clinical details.

Guidance on food safety, including preparation and storage, is emphasized so as not to compromise a vulnerable immune system. Answers to common questions about multivitamins and other dietary supplements, along with advice on sugar, organic foods, and nutrient deficiencies all are discussed. Tips on keeping the refrigerator and freezer stocked with easy-to-eat or -prepare foods are provided.

Recipes are cleverly organized by side effects—nausea, diarrhea, constipation, trouble swallowing, sore mouth or throat, unintentional weight loss, and taste changes. Each recipe section is prefaced with detailed suggestions specific to that side effect. Many of the recipes are appropriate for people experiencing more than one side effect.

As always, patients are encouraged to follow the advice from their immediate health care team, including an RD, for a personalized nutrition assessment and therapeutic eating plan. What to Eat During Cancer Treatment is a valuable resource to turn to when challenged by optimal food and nutrition intake throughout the illness process.