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  • General Guidelines for Good Eating
  • Eating When Ill

Persons with a serious illnesses often have trouble getting enough nutrition. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy can all lead to loss of appetite. Malnutrition occurs when not enough food is eaten to nourish the body. Malnutrition can lead to progressive wasting, weakness, exhaustion, lower resistance to infection, and problems taking treatments.

General Guidelines for Good Eating

Eating at regular times during the day from the four basic food groups will help you control and stabilize your weight. The four basic food groups are:

These provide all the nutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats and Vitamins and minerals) we need for our bodies to stay healthy. The minimum recommendations for each food group per day are as follows:

Eating When Ill

Ideally, the amount of food you eat should be the amount that your body needs to work properly. But when you are ill it is often very difficult to focus on food groups, frequent meals, and eating well.

If you were overweight before you became ill, it may be tempting to look at weight loss as a only good thing. Weight loss can be good, but only if your diet has enough nutrients and water. You can become very low in protein and certain vitamins and minerals very quickly. If you were not overweight before you became ill, you are more likely to take any weight loss seriously.

In both cases, you should get in the habit of weighing yourself weekly and making sure you talk to a nutritionist or your health care practitioner if you lose more than 3 pounds in a week.

What about tube feedings? In the largest study of seriously ill persons in hospitals, tube feeding did no good (except perhaps for some persons in comas). Before beginning tube feeding it is very important to understand the benefits and harms it might cause.

We have tried to make the How's Your Health error-free. However, those involved in its preparation can not warrant that all of the information is accurate and complete. When you use How's Your Health as a guide for your health and medical care, be sure to discuss any questions about it with your doctor, nurse, or other health care worker.