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About Breast Cancer>Wellness & Body Image > Nutrition and exercise

Nutrition and exercise

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Most people know the importance of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise, but it can be challenging to always follow the best advice. Still, keeping a healthy weight and eating nutritious foods can help prevent illness and injury and improve your mood.

Studies show that keeping a healthy weight, eating a plant-based, whole-foods diet, and exercising at least 30 minutes every day lowers the chance of breast cancer coming back in early-stage disease. This kind of healthy lifestyle may also increase survival time.

During treatment, some side effects may make keeping a healthy lifestyle difficult:

  • Changes in taste or smell caused by chemotherapy may keep you from eating the foods you need or want
  • Fatigue, can make it hard to stay active
  • You might gain or lose weight because of certain treatments

Your treatment center may have registered dietitians, or RDs, to help you develop meal plans that meet your nutritional needs. They can discuss nutrition guidelines for people with cancer and address your dietary needs during and after treatment. If possible, seek out an RD who is a Certified Specialist in Oncology, or CSO. To be certified, RDs must have practiced nutrition counseling in cancer settings and developed special knowledge.

Whether you use an RD or not, try to include healthy whole grains and legumes, like beans, in your diet for protein. Plant-based diets that include little or no meat also help. Avoid processed foods and fast foods because they tend to have high sugar, salt and fat, and fewer nutrients.

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill its mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content. For over 30 years, the organization has remained committed to creating a culture of acceptance — where sharing the diversity of the lived experience of breast cancer fosters self-advocacy and hope. For more information, learn more about our programs and services.

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