Look after yourself

We’ve put together some tips for getting into healthy habits. However, it can be difficult to change your lifestyle if you’re struggling with low mood or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a number of CML forums where you can connect with other people with similar experiences. Or you may find it helpful to speak to a counsellor.

Boost your diet

A balanced diet can:

  • Give you more energy1
  • Boost immunity2
  • Lower your risk of some types of health problems such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases2

What is a balanced diet?

The World Health Organisation recommends a diet that3:

  • Is high in fruit and vegetables – make sure you eat at least 400g per day
  • Contains bread, whole grains, pasta, rice or potatoes several times a day
  • Replaces fatty meat and meat products with beans, legumes, lentils, fish, poultry or lean met
  • Uses milk and dairy products
  • Is low in saturated fat, sugar and salt
  • Contains as little alcohol as possible

Depending on the medication you are prescribed you may need to avoid certain foods like grapefruit. Make sure you read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication, and check with your doctor or a pharmacist if you have questions.

How can I improve my diet?

CML and the side effects of your medicine may both lead to low energy and appetite.4,5 Try these ideas to help you keep to a healthy diet:

  • Cook in bulk on days you have more energy. You can freeze individual portions for the times you feel tired
  • Stock up on foods that are easy to prepare, such as nutritious soups, cereal, pasta and frozen vegetables
  • Keep healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit or low-calorie yogurt, so you can easily reach for these instead of chocolate or biscuits6
  • Try having fruit or vegetables with every meal3

Move more

Staying active can help to:

  • Fight fatigue3
  • Improve your mood and quality of life3
  • Maintain a healthy weight3
  • Keep your heart healthy and prevent other health problems3

How to do it

If you’re already active, there’s probably no reason you can’t continue with what you already enjoy, but check with your healthcare team to be sure1. If you haven’t exercised for a while, speak to your healthcare team about getting started.

What can get in the way?

You may sometimes feel too tired1. And low mood can affect your motivation. These ideas could help:

  • Don’t discount everyday activities like gardening, DIY, housework and walking to the shops - they all count as activity
  • Pace yourself. Rest when you need to and break activity down into chunks of 10 or 15 minutes. Gradually build up the amount of activity you do
  • Have an exercise buddy who can help motivate you to get out, whether you’re swimming, walking or dancing together

Quit smoking

Smoking cigarettes can:

  • Raise your risk of lots of other cancers, heart disease and a range of other serious conditions, including dementia
  • Potentially make side effects from cancer treatment worse
  • Weaken your immunity
  • Lead to health problems in those around you through passive smoking9

How to do it

It may be helpful to:

  • Think about why you want to stop smoking and what the benefits of stopping smoking will be9
  • Think about possible barriers or obstacles that might make it difficult to quit, and how you can overcome these9
  • Get support. Tell friends and family you’re quitting and talk to your GP about stop smoking services that are available. Relying on your own willpower alone is not likely to result in lasting quitting9

What can get in the way?

It can be difficult for anyone to stop smoking. Craving can be a major reason why people start smoking again. Ask your doctor for advice about controlling craving – they may recommend smoking counselling services or particular medicines.9

  1. NCCN (2014) Guidelines Cancer-Related Fatigue
  2. World Health Organisation. Benefits of a balanced diet. Accessed May 2018.

  3. Word Health Organisation. A healthy lifestyle. Accessed May 2018.

  4. CML: a guide for patients - Information based on ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines - v.2013.1.
  5. Macmillan. Targeted therapies. Accessed May 2018.

  6. Cancer Research UK. Ten Top Tips. Accessed May 2018.

  7. World Health Organisation. Benefits of Regular Activity. Accessed May 2018.

  8. Macmillan. Reasons to quit. Accessed May 2018.

  9. European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention. European smoking cessation guidelines (ENSP) (2012). Accessed May 2018.