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Maintaining a Healthy Weight with Breast Cancer


Some breast cancer treatments and their side effects can cause weight issues. Chemotherapy or hormone-based therapies, for example, may cause you to gain or lose weight in ways you don’t expect.

Managing Weight During Breast Cancer Treatment

Managing your weight during breast cancer treatment can be challenging, but there are some things you can do to be proactive with your health. Start with your diet:

  • Make nutritious decisions that fit into your life.
  • Eat a balanced diet:
    • Have at least 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
    • Try to eat high fiber food like beans, lean proteins and whole grains.
    • Choose foods low in fat and salt.
    • Drink plenty of water.
  • Track your food. Experts recommend using online tools to keep tabs on what you’re eating throughout the day and where you can make small dietary changes.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Exercising regularly may seem impossible as you deal with short and long-term side effects like fatigue. But, remember it’s okay to start slow:

  • Check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen, and make sure to tell them about any physical symptoms you are experiencing from treatment.
  • Make it your eventual goal to complete 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week or 150 minutes of moderate activity. You may not feel like this is possible today, but start where you can and, each week, you will feel like you can add a little more.
  • Incorporate a mix of cardio, strength training and flexibility into your workout. Keeping it varied is not only good for your body, but makes your routine more fun!
  • Ask for recommendations. There are many programs that offer special classes or services just for cancer survivors. Livestrong, for example, partners with the YMCA to provide personal training sessions unique to your needs after a diagnosis. Your cancer center or healthcare provider may also have recommendations in your community.

You Don’t Have to Do it Alone

Your cancer center or healthcare provider can provide resources or referrals specific to your needs. Ask about finding a nutritionist or physical rehabilitation specialist.

Our Navigator guidebooks also provide a wealth of information on how to stay healthy at every phase of your breast cancer diagnosis.

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