How a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Can Help During and After Cancer Treatment

Dec 12, 2022 | Angie Murad, Patient Educator | @muradangie | Comments (17)

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
    • Lifestyle
    • Finances
    • 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? 

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Cancer Education blog.

Does Mayo Clinic offer video visits with a RDN?

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@beth123

Does Mayo Clinic offer video visits with a RDN?

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Yes they do! Let your provider know you would like to meet with a dietitian and then request a video visit when scheduling.

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@beth123 I had a video visit with a dietitian earlier this month. I was referred by a provider (oncologist) and the online visit was very easy to set up.

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@muradangie

Yes they do! Let your provider know you would like to meet with a dietitian and then request a video visit when scheduling.

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Hello, I was looking for a way to connect with you but this seems to be the only route. My wife was recently diagnosed and I was looking for some guidance. Would all hospitals dealing with cancer offer a RDN as support?

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@andymac77

Hello, I was looking for a way to connect with you but this seems to be the only route. My wife was recently diagnosed and I was looking for some guidance. Would all hospitals dealing with cancer offer a RDN as support?

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Hello @andymac77
Yes, there should be a dietitian to provide support for your wife. Talk with your oncology care team to ask if they can order a consult with a dietitian. I wish the best to your wife.

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@muradangie

Hello @andymac77
Yes, there should be a dietitian to provide support for your wife. Talk with your oncology care team to ask if they can order a consult with a dietitian. I wish the best to your wife.

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Thank you very much. Greatly appreciated, especially the quick response.

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The integrative oncologist at Mayo recommended some books to me that were very hopeful and informative about cancer remission that included nutrition recommendations: Radical Remission and Radical Hope by Kelly Turner. They include more of a diet elimination process. She also highly recommends Ketotarian diet for my cancer GBM. Ketotarian is more complex and a bigger change for me. I’m looking forward to my integrative oncology nutritionist appointment at the end of the month to get the support I need. Everything I read says diet matters with cancer!

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