Diabetic-friendly foods such as whole grains can also support pancreatic cancer patients

Editor’s note: Each week, our Friday Fix series offers pancreatic cancer patients and caregivers a new topic related to health, diet and nutrition. For today’s post, we highlight diabetic-friendly foods and how people who have diabetes can improve their nutrition.

Diabetes affects millions of people throughout the United States, although only a small percentage, mostly those who are diagnosed with new-onset diabetes, develop pancreatic cancer afterward. It’s important for all of those affected to know how food plays a role in the management of the disease.

We asked Jeannine Mills, MS, RD, CSO, LD, oncology dietitian at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and member of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board (SMAB), about diabetes as it relates to pancreatic cancer.

“There may be times when appetite is quite low, or you may experience early fullness – both contributing to lower food intake,” said Mills. “When this is the case, we are more apt to recommend that you relax your diet such as not limiting or reducing carbohydrates.

“If foods that may be higher in refined sugar appeal to you, consider consuming these types of foods with a meal verses alone to offset the effects of increasing blood sugars. Realize too, there are other factors that can contribute to elevated blood sugars in the setting of pancreatic cancer and diabetes to include impact of the disease, treatment, medications, fatigue and pain.”

We offer some diabetic-friendly food options below that will help meet the special nutritional needs of someone who has diabetes, with or without pancreatic cancer.

  • Fruits and vegetables (oranges, apples, bananas, carrots and spinach)
  • Whole grains, cereals and bread (wheat, rice, oats, bran and barley)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt)
  • Meats and meat substitutes (fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans and nuts)
  • Fats and oils (oil, butter and margarine)

Before modifying or incorporating any new foods into your diet, we strongly recommend that you speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

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