Ask the Nutritionist
Q: I went through treatment for pancreatic cancer a year ago and am now experiencing constipation, horrible gas, and weight loss. What can I do about these symptoms?
Edie Rosen, Bloomfield, Connecticut
A: GI disturbances are common with pancreatic cancer. However, the management of these symptoms can be a unique process. To decrease gas, we recommend you:
- Avoid using a straw.
- Avoid chewing with your mouth open or eating quickly.
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Avoid carbonated beverages and beer.
- Use Beano when eating gas-producing produce (broccoli, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts, corn, cucumber, cabbage, leeks, radishes, peppers, kohlrabi, turnips, asparagus) and beans (baked beans, soybeans, lentils, split peas, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, and navy beans).
- Use Lactaid or Dairy Ease to aid in digestion of dairy products, or choose soy or rice milk instead.
Gentle tips for managing constipation include:
- Eat foods or beverages that are warmed, including prune juice.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat regular meals at the same time daily.
- Eat whole grain breads. Try oatmeal bread, which his helpful for both constipation and diarrhea.
- Choose whole grain cereals, such as oatmeal and oat based cold cereals.
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables, particularly cooked vegetables and fruits, such as apples, pears and melons (these types are less likely to induce diarrhea).
Eating small, frequent meals will help with these symptoms, as well as your weight loss. Also try adding healthy calories, including foods like avocado, hummus and nut butters.
For generalized tips for healthy eating with pancreatic cancer, please refer to our diet for pancreatic cancer patient.
Making an appointment with a nutritionist to have a personalized assessment of your diet and symptoms is the most helpful, long-term option in your case.