Healthy eating is an important part of cancer treatment, but patients undergoing proton therapy face some challenges when it comes to consuming the ideal prostate cancer diet.
That’s because doctors order patients to adhere to a “low residue” diet, which restricts them from eating foods high in fiber. The purpose of the diet is to keep the digestive system flowing smoothly and reduce gas and bloating that could result in displacement of the markers that help guide the protons to their tumor target.
Why Eat “Low-Residue” Diet?
These foods pass through the body quickly, so this is not something that would be considered healthy long-term. Instead, this prostate cancer diet is a short-term necessity for patients undergoing proton therapy.
Although the diet does have its limitations, it’s not as restrictive as many people think. And it’s important for patients to incorporate the guidelines of a healthy diet as much as possible.
The bottom line of the “low residue” prostate cancer diet is this: consume less than 10-15 grams of fiber a day.
To Eat or Not To Eat
Protein. Keeping most proteins in the diet is acceptable (as long as it’s tender and unprocessed), including almost every category of meat, along with dairy and smooth nut butters (not crunchy). When it comes to meat, it’s best to avoid steak, chewy bacon, and sausage.
Whole grains. While whole grains should not be consumed, patients can keep quick oatmeal in their diets. Sourdough bread can also be used to lowering the rush of sugar into the bloodstream when eating the required refined carbs.
Vegetables. Most vegetables are still on the menu with modifications including potatoes with no skins, cucumbers with no skins or seeds (did you know English cucumbers are seedless?), and tomatoes, seeds removed (Romas are good). Also, if a vegetable can be cooked, it should be.
Fruit. Although fruit is more limited, patients can have some, including a banana per day, melons, apricots, nectarines, papayas, peaches, and plums.
Caffeine. Sorry coffee lovers. We know decaffeinated coffee is tough to swallow for many patients, but caffeine stimulates the bowel and bladder, potentially causing spasms during treatment.
Fats. Fats are permitted, but it’s recommended to limit them when possible. For example, using an oil spray instead of butter when cooking or frying.
Individualize Your Prostate Cancer Diet
Overall, these guidelines aren’t set in stone for every prostate cancer patient going through proton therapy , because the effect of certain foods can vary person to person. Always consult your physician and/or nutritionist with any questions. And, if you eat something that causes a problem, even if it’s on the approved list, you may still need to leave it out.