Managing Treatments

Managing Diabetes and Cancer Treatment

A healthy diet, low in sugar and rich in vegetables, is beneficial for people who have diabetes and cancer. Get your loved ones involved to make the process easier.

Diabetes and cancer share many of the same risk factors so it’s not uncommon for people to be diagnosed with both conditions. Since it slows your body’s ability to heal, diabetes can affect your treatment. It’s important to keep your blood sugar in check to prevent further damage. The New York Times reports, however, that your doctor may decide that certain parts of cancer treatment take precedence over your diabetes to make sure your cancer treatment is effective.

Managing these two conditions is a delicate balance you doctor will monitor. There are some things, however, you can do to help your body deal with diabetes and cancer.

Nourish Your Body With Healthy Food

Meeting with a registered dietitian (RD) will make meal planning easier. Discuss your eating habits, how you’ve been managing your glucose, and the plan for cancer treatment. Your RD will be able to help you plan a diet that includes some foods you love, works with your treatment, and helps with possible side effects. For the most part, a standard diabetic-friendly meal plan is appropriate. As you work with your various treatment teams, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure to eat something every couple of hours.
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly.
  • Eat your vegetables. If crunchy carrots are hard on your mouth while you’re going through treatment, try something like roasted squash.
  • Combine carbohydrates, such as fruit or bread, with healthy fats and proteins.
  • If vomiting and nausea become a problem, you may also have issues with low blood sugar. Be sure to have a snack or juice available in case you need it.

Keep Moving

Try to get exercise when you can. Getting up and walking around your house is better than sitting in the same spot all day. The more you move, the better your body can manage your sugar levels. It tends to make you feel better as well improving your mood and energy levels. Make an effort to get 30 minutes of movement a day.

Communication Is Crucial

Your ability to be upfront with your doctors and loved ones will help you manage these two conditions. If your loved ones understand the lifestyle changes you need to make to get through this treatment they can be helpful. When they cook and eat healthy meals with you or you can exercise together it will make it easier for you to stay on track with these habits. Also, show someone else in your family how to check your blood sugar levels in case you can’t do it yourself.

The most important thing you can do if you have these two conditions is to maintain good communication with your medical team. This is especially true if you’re having trouble following through on any of the instructions. If your diet will be altered because of stress or a vacation, talk to your team first.

Some elements of treatment, such as the steroids used to combat nausea according to the American Brain Tumor Association, can elevate blood sugar levels. If your diabetes was initiated by your cancer treatment, there’s a chance your blood sugar will stabilize once the treatment is complete. A healthy diet, however, is still a good idea.

While it can be a hassle, it’s good to remember that a diet that’s healthy for managing diabetes is also healthy for cancer survivors. Find a way to be friends with vegetables and invite your loved ones over for healthy potlucks. Everyone will be healthier and happier for it!

UVA provides individual sessions to help devise a plan for managing your diabetes. Talk to your doctor today about a plan.

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Judy Schwartz Haley
Judy Schwartz Haley