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Dear Iris: Meal Prep Feels Daunting

Dear Iris,

How can I manage meal prep on days when I'm feeling sluggish or have a fluctuating appetite due to my treatment?


Dear C,

When you’re juggling cancer treatment and the eating challenges that can come with that, meal planning and prep can be a helpful strategy. Meal planning involves deciding in advance what to eat. When meal planning is done with a flexible approach it can reduce mealtime stress, improve the chances a nourishing meal is within reach, and provide a sense of control.

Meal prep goes a step further by preparing ingredients or parts of a meal ahead, saving time, and ensuring nutritious options are easier to grab, particularly on low-energy days. The most important thing is to figure out how meal planning and prep works for you because changes in taste or appetite can make advance planning around food challenging for some.

A practical meal prep strategy is deciding what to do based on the amount of time you have in the moment – whether that’s 5 minutes to quickly chop some vegetables or 30 minutes to put together a soup. By breaking down the process into manageable tasks based on time, you can begin to do meal planning and preparation work in your favor without adding more stress.

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This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.