This is Part One of a series on nutrition for breast cancer patients.

It’s never too early to start thinking about nutrition when you have breast cancer. Whether your treatment is yet to happen, just beginning, or already underway, nutrition is an important support system for your body.

Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center nutritionist Mary Eve Brown suggests you start with hydration, warning that it’s “not one size fits all." Your weight determines how much water you will need to become hydrated, so Brown offers this easy formula: Divide your weight by 2.2 to get your hydration level in ounces to consume per day. That’s the minimal amount to drink per day, so you may need to think about how to add hydration to your day. Other steps Brown recommends for cancer patients beginning their treatment include:

• Gather your friends and family and let them know how they can help: Tell them “I’m beginning treatment and I can use your help to stay nourished.” Ask for help with preparing food, stocking up on water, and stocking your pantry with nutritious foods.
• Think about equipment: Brown suggests you consider an immersion blender—a handheld device that can blend soups or smoothies right in the cup, pot or bowl in which you’re preparing them. It’s easy to use and can help motivate you to prepare these useful dishes, or to prepare individual portions of these dishes.
• Think about how you will become active: In addition to nutrition, physical activity can be an important part of your treatment. Work with a professional to design a program that will be safe for you, based on your specific diagnosis and treatment. Brown notes that the cancer center’s physical medicine department specializes in physical recovery, and can help you develop a safe program.

You can find out more about nutrition and your breast cancer journey in Brown’s recent free webinar, What’s Food Got to Do With It? Eating Well Before, During and After Treatment.

Part Two: What nutrition can contribute to breast cancer patients
Part Three: How to manage breast cancer treatment side effects with nutrition: Sore mouth, taste changes and nausea
Part Four: Breast cancer patients may need a management game plan for diarrhea
Part Five: The breast cancer patient’s management game plan for constipation
Part Six: The breast cancer patient’s management game plan for weight loss
Part Seven: Nutrition after therapy: How breast cancer patients can create a prevention diet
Part Eight: What about supplements? Nutrition advice for breast cancer patients
Part Nine: Do organic foods help breast cancer patients?

More from Mary Eve Brown:
Colon Cancer and Nutrition
Pancreatic Cancer and Nutrition

This blog post was prepared by Denise Graveline, a communications and social media consultant based in Washington, DC.

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