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Managing Weight

Posted 10/25/2016

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  First: I am leaving this evening for two weeks away from Boston, will be back at work on November 8th. I am not taking my computer with me, so will not be able to post until, probably the 7th. I will have intermittent email access, so please feel free to be in touch with me that way: hhill@bidmc.harvard.edu

  Partly with this in mind, I was attracted to the topic of weight for this posting. When I think about diet/weight after a cancer diagnosis and during/after treatment, I first think about weight maintenance and avoiding the weight gain that is all too common. There are, of course, lots of people who worry about exactly the opposite problem: losing weight.

  If weight loss is your concern, speak with your nurse or doctor and consider making an appointment with a dietitian. At BIDMC, we have a specially trained dietitian who works as part of our team and will have many helpful suggestions about ways to add calories.

  If your concerns are related to not gaining weight, the suggestions are quite different. First a reminder that chemo often slows metabolism, and that fact added to the usual reality of less exercise during cancer treatment means that it can be all too easy to add a few pounds. Consider, too, that when we are in treatment, we are generally interested in comfort foods, and that may mean a lot of carbs or high calorie treats. There is an old joke about the ideal chemo meal being mac and cheese, white bread, and mashed potatoes. 

  Once chemo is done, maintaining weight can still be a challenge. For women with ER positive breast cancers and for some other patients, the prescribed anti-estrogen/hormonal treatments often bring along some weight gain. Chemo and some surgeries bring on immediate menopause, and women's bodies naturally change at that life event. It is an unpleasant fact that the average healthy 55 year old woman weighs more than she did at 25. It is crazy to think that we can regain the 25 year old body, but we can try to maintain a healthy, age appropriate weight.

  I am especially thinking about this because of my plans for the next two weeks. I am accompanying my husband who is giving talks at two meetings: the first in Dubai and then in Paris. I am less concerned about the eating in Dubai (although I have been there before and know that there are excellent restaurants), but Paris.....The saving grace in Paris has always been all the walking. Since I am not working, my plan will be to walk and eat and walk some more and eat some more and hope that it balances out. My most favorite lunch in the whole world awaits me: cheese omelet, frites, small green salad, a glass of red wine. Don't think about the calories!

 From Cancer Net comes this excellent guide:

http://www.cancer.net/sites/cancer.net/files/weight_after_cancer_diagnosis.pdf

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