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Food for thought

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

To help patients and carers, we’ve come up with easy steps to boost their immune systems and a list of healthy foods, which will have a positive impact on their frame of mind and general well-being

While there is little medical evidence of the effects of different diets or supplements, it is important to eat well for your general health and well-being.

Maintaining a clean diet is one thing, however it is just as important to try and keep active and aim to keep your weight at a manageable and healthy level.

A healthy daily diet for a blood cancer patient might include:

-  Wholegrain cereal and bread, rice or pasta

-  Five portions of fresh or dried fruit. Fruit and veg should be cooked soft enough to eat

-  Dairy or soya milk

-  Cheese; in particular cottage cheese

-  Lean meat or fish; especially oily fish or soya products

-  Pulses; lentils and beans

-  Eggs

-  Seasoning; herbs and spices, including chives and parsley

We understand that using fresh ingredients all the time can become expensive and that cooking meals from scratch can be time consuming. Here are a few tips for eating well on a budget:

  1. Cook from scratch as much as you can. Processed foods may seem cheap but if you cook from scratch in bulk and freeze, it can work out cheaper.
  2. Don’t buy pre-chopped vegetables – buy individual vegetables and chop them yourself, it works out a lot cheaper. You can also freeze any leftovers already pre-chopped to save yourself time next time you cook. You can also grate leftover vegetables into soups/stews to thicken and add in any extra goodness and flavour.
  3. Buy your meat from a butcher rather than pre-packed chicken breasts, thighs etc. It is a lot cheaper and can save on waste, especially if you don’t have many people to cook for. 
  4. Substitute meat for beans or lentils e.g. in a shepherds pie – use ½ lentils, ½ mince – this will cut down on cost and increase the nutritional quality of the dish.

Diet and exercise are not the only factors to consider when maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Food hygiene is important to everyone, especially blood cancer patients whose immune system is lowered by treatment. A few key things to remember:

-  Ensure chilled foods are kept refrigerated

-  Always wash your hands before handling food, especially after touching raw food

-  Ensure all food is thoroughly cooked, in particular meat

-  Use different chopping boards for raw and cooked foods

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