A day in the Life of a Cancer Dietitian
Nutrition can play an integral part in the fight against pre-existing cancers as well as overall cancer prevention. Balanced nutritional intake with the incorporation of certain “super-foods” can help one feel stronger and possibly have more energy throughout their course of treatment or recovery. Join us this Thursday at 6 PM for a Nutrition Workshop with our registered dietitian Megan Sewards MS, RD. This workshop will provide tips on how to obtain a healthier diet/lifestyle with ultimate goal of decreasing overall cancer risk. Can’t make it to the workshop? Schedule your individual nutritional counseling session with Megan today! She is Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and is well versed in current nutrition research and recommendations for those with the active diagnosis of cancer, those in remission and or those currently undergoing cancer treatments. Contact us to get started. Keep reading to find out a little bit more about Megan and the role diet plays in maintaining a healthy lifestyle!
Tell us about yourself! What inspired you to become a registered dietitian?
I was always involved with sports/athletics growing up and always realized my nutrition had a huge effect on how I performed. As I got older and entered college I knew that I wanted to choose a field that centered around the body and health. I love working with other people and was fascinated by nutrition as a means for disease prevention so I knew a career path in nutrition was the right fit. I can easily say I love what I do!
weSPARK provides free services for cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. These services are meant to alleviate the physical and emotional side effects of a cancer diagnosis. How can a balanced diet combat pre-existing cancers as well and serve as an aide to cancer prevention?
Often times one can be genetically predisposed to cancer due to genetics and or lifestyle choices. Bad nutritional choices can often increase our risk of developing disease. Obesity, high fat diets, sedentary lifestyles and an increased intake of refined sugars are all linked to an increase in inflammation and risk for disease; specifically certain cancers. By having a balanced diet you are ensuring your intake is that of essential nutrients that can combat inflammation as well as have the potential to kill and or prevent potential cancer cells from forming or spreading. Balanced diets are often more linked with healthier weights as well as lower risk for overall disease.
Tell us about your experience with weSPARK. What led you to our facility?
I have worked for weSPARK for a little over a year now and fell in love with the guests, staff as well as what weSPARK is all about. I had been working as a dietitian in the cancer field for almost 10 years in a hospital setting and always preferred working more in the outpatient setting as you get more one on one time with your clients. When the opportunity came up at weSPARK, I knew I wanted to jump on it as my passion is promoting nutrition as a means of medicine for those suffering from cancer.
You are leading a weSPARK Nutrition Workshop on Thursday, May 11 at 6 PM. Can you guide us through some of the topics you discuss at these workshops?
The topic this Thursday will be focused on symptom management during cancer treatments (chemo, radiation, surgery etc.). Many unwarranted side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, poor appetite, weight loss etc. are all a result of many common cancer treatments which indubitably have the potential to have a negative effect on one’s nutritional status. Treatment/intervention suggestions on how to cope with these side effects and prevent a decline in your nutrition status will be the main focus of this workshop. Samples of oral supplements as well as bone broth samples will be available for all clients that attend.
What do our guests take away after participating in these workshops?
Many diverse topics have been discussed in these workshops. So far we have covered topics on how to ensure your home is stocked with powerful cancer fighting foods, benefits of juices/smoothies as a holistic treatment to cancer as well as how to satisfy your sweet tooth healthfully. A main goal for me during these workshops are to ensure clients are following the most up to date information for their nutrition during their cancer journey and to make sure they aren’t ill-informed on much of the incorrect data circulating out in the media world.
Aside from leading the nutrition workshops, you also facilitate the nutritional counseling individual appointments here at weSPARK. What are some of the topics you discuss?
Dependent on the client as well as diagnosis, the counseling may vary. Most of my sessions with clients may include anything from discussing cancer fighting foods, foods that help decrease inflammation/acidity in the body (as cancer prefers an acidic environment for growth), common foods that are linked to cancer and tips on avoidance, all the way to discussing weight management, benefit of oral supplementation to combat weight loss, symptoms management during treatment, potential harm of dietary supplements, etc. It really all depends on what brings the client in and what questions they may have.
What inspires you?
I love learning about the ever changing world of nutrition research and how it can be linked to decreasing and/or preventing disease. I love seeing positive outcomes for my clients as well as how my nutrition instruction and education may result in positive changes for them in their lives.
How do you practice self-care?
I try to practice what I preach. I have been a Vegetarian for over the last 15 years (not to say this works for everyone) and try to avoid highly processed foods (junk food, eating out, etc) as much as possible. I eat small frequent meals/snacks which I feel prevents over eating. I stay decently active with at least 30 minutes of walking and or light activity daily. I allow for my vices (dark chocolate, pizza, a little red wine–> we all have something right ) in moderation as I do not believe in over restriction as it often leads to indulgent behaviors. I stay abreast of current nutrition research and continue to change the foods I incorporate into my daily intake as much as possible. Its not about “dieting” its about eating healthy for life.
What is something people might not know about you?
I have a soon to be 2 year old son who keeps me “very busy.” Also I have my Master’s degree in nutrition science and have a career goal to go back to school and get my PhD in public health so I can teach at a collegiate level.