Food for Thought about Cancer and Nutrition

Food is fuel for the body. For cancer patients, having the right fuel is more important than ever.

Astrid Quenneville speaking to a colleague.

Astrid Quenneville

“People with cancer have a higher risk of malnutrition for a number of reasons,” explains Astrid Quenneville, a Registered Dietitian at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. “For example, it’s like they’re running a constant marathon in terms of the energy demands imposed on them by the cancer.”

As a member of the multi-disciplinary care team, Astrid works with patients to evaluate their individual requirements and tailor a specific nutrition care plan to meet their needs.

Strategies for side effects

“I help people prevent weight loss, particularly the loss of lean body mass,” she says. “I also help people navigate the side effects of treatment that can impact their ability to eat.”

Some patients may experience nausea, difficulty swallowing or loss of appetite. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment may also cause some foods to taste bland or unpleasant.

“People with cancer have a higher risk of malnutrition for a number of reasons.”

“I find it gratifying to work directly with patients and families, journeying with them during a difficult time and helping them develop effective strategies as their relationship with food changes.”