How a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Can Help During and After Cancer Treatment
Article written by Maddie Strong, MS, RDN, LD and Lisa Lammert, RDN, LD
Nutrition is a critical part of your cancer treatment journey. Research shows that eating well during treatment can help you stay stronger and feel better during treatment. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can help you optimize your nutrition before, during and after cancer treatment.
RDNs are food and nutrition experts who have graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, completed an accredited supervised dietetic internship, passed a national examination and who must complete ongoing continuing professional education requirements to maintain registration.
How can an RDN help me?
- Manage side effects from treatment, such as poor appetite or taste changes
- Prevent unintentional weight loss during treatment
- Promote healthy nutrition habits
- Separate cancer nutrition myths from facts
- Educate on healthy eating patterns to help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence
- Help achieve or maintain a healthy body weight
An RDN will partner with you to develop a safe and realistic eating plan. To guide and motivate you, an RDN will use creative and out-of-the-box strategies to help with meal planning, weight management and cancer treatment symptom management.
What can you expect while meeting with an RDN?
- A thorough review of medical history, current diet, and eating habits
- Development of a personalized nutrition plan that takes into consideration:
- Food preferences, allergies, and intolerances
- Ability to shop for and prepare food
- Multiple or conflicting diet/nutrition needs
- Cancer treatment symptoms
- Focus on foods to include, not just what to avoid
- Support in identifying and overcoming barriers
- Guidance setting individualized goals
Most often a referral is needed from your health care provider to work with an RDN. Cost of RDN visits vary depending on insurance type/coverage. Ask your health care provider for a referral to a registered dietitian nutritionist and start maximizing your nutrition for a better quality of life!
How has a dietitian supported you?