View Full Version : Eating Healthy While Neutropenic

Sun Dec 16, 2012, 06:50 PM
I'm sorry if this has been covered a hundred times already, but didn't find much in the quick look I took at my forum search results....

Any suggestions for healthy eating while neutropenic? My ANC is 300 (had horse ATG Thanksgiving weekend), and I know I'm at risk for all sorts of infections until I get that number closer to 1000. Right now, I'd sell my right arm (the left one has my PICC line and I ain't giving that up!) for a green leafy salad or some other fresh vegetables. But, I get the impression that anything fresh is to be avoided like the plague because of the potential for contamination. (I found one neutropenic diet online that actually said avoid salads, but Twinkies were okay).

In the hospital, I was able to order salad because their kitchen was using some special washing procedure that's been tested at Fred Hutchinson in Seattle. Looking at the ingredient list of the product the hospital uses, it contains acetic acid, basically very strong vinegar. I'm not sure regular ol' vinegar would give the same results. Besides, isn't vinegar "mother" some sort of bacteria?

I've been buying a lot of fresh frozen veggies, but I'm running out of flavor combinations. Should we have chopped broccoli, or maybe some Oriental mix with brocolli and snow peas? How 'bout some broccoli stems? You get the picture. I've tried mixing the broccoli in with lentils and brown rice, but it's just not the same without a splash of Shoyu to flavor the rice. ;)

Anyone have any suggestions? Am I still weeks away from some rabbit food? Thanks for any ideas you may have.

Joyce (mtngal)

Neil Cuadra
Sun Dec 16, 2012, 07:28 PM

Hospitals can usually give you diet information. You can certainly ask.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society offers good diet information, including tips on a neutropenic diet (http://www.lls.org/diseaseinformation/managingyourcancer/treatmentnextsteps/foodnutrition/neutropenicdiet/) and a Food and Nutrition Facts (http://www.lls.org/content/nationalcontent/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/generalcancer/pdf/foodnutritionfacts.pdf) PDF booklet.

I think you'll also find the advice at LIVESTRONG (http://www.livestrong.com/article/356481-neutropenic-diet/) helpful because it includes specifics.

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 02:12 PM
John ate raw vegetable when he was neutropenic. But I did wash them in vinegar first. Be sure to wash things you have to peel too. Some combine vinegar and hydrogen peroxide as a wash.

The best defense for the digestive track is to have adequate stomach acids. If you are on anything that reduces the acid, then you are more vulnerable to invading bacteria. A good probiotic is a good idea also.

I'd stay away from packaged luncheon meats (listeria bacteria) and do not use a microwave to reheat anything because it does not heat evenly.

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 06:50 PM
Thanks for the ideas, Neil & Marlene. Sounds like there's a lot of mixed advice out there. Fresh veggies okay if washed. Fresh veggies not okay. Not so sure I want to take the risk at this point. Especially since I am on a Prilosec type of acid blocking drug because of the stomach/gall bladder issues I was having due to the veraconizole anti-fungal drug. Sigh. Feeling a little like a pharmaceutical whack-a-mole.


Neil Cuadra
Mon Dec 17, 2012, 09:45 PM
Remember that safety and nutritional value don't go hand in hand. For the short term it's OK to favor safety over nutrition, for example relying on canned fruits and vegetables instead of the fresh variety. It's ironic that even food that's considered bad for you can be safe regarding risks of infection, and meanwhile it's too dangerous to eat those green leafy vegetables that experts always advise everyone else to eat.

For long term good health we all require nutritious food, but don't worry if you have to make that goal secondary for now.

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:00 AM
Since you are on Prilosec, I too would play it safe. Focus on cooked, nutrient packed food. Get good protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. Bone broths, chicken or beef, with root vegetables are packed full of minerals.