If You Have A Sore Or Dry Mouth Or Trouble Swallowing
- Drink plenty of fluids, even if its just a few sips at a time.
- Try sucking ice cubes or lollies made from fresh fruit juice.
- Go for foods that are soft, bland and easy to eat. Try soups, stews or dahls with lots of sauce, and soft desserts like rice pudding, ice cream and mousses. Blend foods if necessary.
- Have high-energy drinks such as milky drinks, milkshakes and smoothies.
- Avoid foods with a rough texture or that need a lot of chewing for example, toast, raw vegetables and tough meat.
- Avoid spicy, salty and sharp-tasting foods because these can make your symptoms worse.
If youre having difficulties with eating and drinking, discuss it with your doctor, dietitian or nurse to make sure youre getting the right support.
Five Quick Food Tips For Thriving Through Chemo
Now that youve read about the best foods for chemo patients to eat, there are a few tips and tricks to consider as you plan your chemo-therapy meals.
Eat bland foods whenever possible. Foods that have too strong a taste or scent, or that are too spicy, can set off bouts of nausea and vomiting. Foods that are greasy or too fatty could do the same thing. Start off with easy-to-digest foods and add other well-balanced foods on the days when you feel better.
Cook all your food thoroughly. This is important because raw foods can contain microbes, and people undergoing chemotherapy may not be able to fight them off because their immune systems wont be working optimally. This doesnt mean you have to cook all your food to mush, though. Lightly steaming vegetables for about three minutes helps keep the nutrients while killing off microbes, so you can get the best nutrition while staying safe.
Eat small meals throughout the day. Keeping your stomach full with small meals can help keep the nausea at bay.
Use chemo as a healthy eating reset. As you end your chemotherapy treatment, remember to include foods like cruciferous vegetables, healthy teas, and fiber-filled foods in your daily diet. This can help prevent new cancer cells from growing.
Getting Help With Your Diet
If youre having difficulties with eating or managing your weight, speak to one of your healthcare team. They can advise and support you and prescribe medicines to help you cope. These may include medicines to boost your appetite, anti-sickness medicines, and medicines to combat constipation and diarrhoea. There are also artificial saliva products, which can help if you have a dry mouth.
A dietitian can help to plan your diet to make sure you get all the calories and nutrients you need. They can also give you advice on the best way to prepare your food. If youre not getting enough calories and protein from your diet, they may suggest trying food supplements. These come as a powder that you make up as a drink or add to food. Some types you can buy from a pharmacy but for others, your doctor or dietitian may give you a prescription.
If other measures arent helping, your doctor, nurse or dietitian may suggest artificial nutrition as a last resort. This means having a tube into your stomach or a vein to supply you with all the nutrients you need. Your doctor, nurse or dietitian will discuss this with you if they feel this is needed.
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Food Safety Tips At Home
When you get home from the grocery store, the way you store and prepare your food is important. Follow these tips to keep your food safe at home.
Keep things clean.
Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running water, and dry them with a clean towel or paper towel.
Rinse the tops of cans before opening them.
Before and after preparing food, wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Pay special attention to areas between fingers and under your nails.
Clean your utensils and dishes with hot water and soap.
Disinfect your kitchen and cutting boards regularly. One way is to use a small amount of liquid, unscented bleach mixed into at least 1 quart of water. Follow the instructions on the bleach container label for exact instructions on making this cleaning solution.
You should also regularly clean your cooking utensils, kitchen counters, and refrigerator shelves.
Handle meat properly. Raw meat, poultry, and fish can spread bacteria to other foods. Cooking them properly will destroy bacteria.
Think Small For Big Results
Loss of appetite is a common side effect of chemotherapy, yet calorie and protein needs are higher with a cancer diagnosis, especially during treatment. While sitting down to a large plate of food can be overwhelming and unappealing, eating small, manageable portions of high-calorie, high-nutrient foods is a good way to get the most nutritional bang for your bite.
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How Conventional Treatments Work
Simply put, both radio- and chemotherapy treat cancer by killing the cells that grow and divide quickly in the body. However, this process does not discriminate between cancer and healthy cells normal cells are also destroyed in the process. From a TCM perspective, such damage to healthy cells results in the deficiency of the bodys Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang. As such, it is essential for cancer patients to adopt a diet and lifestyle that can help alleviate these deficiencies and boost the bodys immune system.
If You Have Diarrhoea
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluid but avoid alcohol and coffee.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Stick to plain foods such as white bread, pasta and well-cooked eggs. Avoid fatty, greasy and spicy foods.
- Reduce your fibre intake until the diarrhoea improves.
- Contact your doctor or nurse if the diarrhoea is severe.
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Taste And Smell Changes
- Avoid red meats if they taste metallic. Eat more chicken, turkey, dairy products and casseroles.
- When foods have less taste, try tart foods such as yogurt, lemon or orange Jell-O, or lemonade.
- When foods taste or smell funny try cold or room temperature foods.
- Try marinated or spicy foods such as enchiladas, herbed chicken or spaghetti if you do not have nausea, vomiting or mouth sores.
- Use hard candies to take away bad taste between meals.
- Maintain good oral hygiene.
Food Safety Tips While Grocery Shopping
When you are shopping for groceries, follow these suggestions to choose the freshest food and keep it fresh while you shop. Always look at how the food is stored and carefully choose your meat, fruits, and vegetables.
Only buy food stored and displayed in a clean area.
Choose fruits and vegetables with no bruises or other damage.
Put foods that need to be kept cool, like meat, milk, and ice cream, in your grocery cart last.
Put any raw meat, poultry, eggs, or fish in their own bag at checkout. Do not put other food in that bag.
Choose cans of food with no cracks, dents, or bulges.
Do not purchase any food that has a tear in the packaging or that is leaking. Make sure safety seals are intact.
Consider bringing a cooler with you to keep foods cold on the drive home. Do not make other stops on your way home from the store.
Clean your reusable grocery bags.
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Diet For Cancer Patients
For most people with cancer, there isnt a particular diet you need to follow. In general, you should try to maintain a , with food from all the main food groups.
You may need to increase the calories and protein in your diet if youre losing weight due to cancer. This might mean following a diet that wouldnt normally be recommended choosing high-calorie and high-fat options, for example. Tips for increasing your calorie and protein intake include:
- switching from semi-skimmed or lower-fat milk, cream, cheese, yoghurts and spreads to full-fat options
- topping vegetables with butter or cheese or roasting them in olive oil
- adding full-fat mayonnaise to sandwiches
- having milky drinks and creamy desserts
- adding dried fruits, nuts and seeds to breakfast cereals
- having snacks that are high in calories and protein for example, sausage rolls, cheese and crackers, nuts and seeds, fromage frais, hard-boiled eggs and houmous
- making sure to include a form of protein at every meal
If youre struggling to keep to a healthy weight, talk to your doctor or nurse. They can put you in touch with a dietitian. For more information, see our section: Getting help with your diet.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Food Poisoning While I Have Cancer
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Keep the food that you think may have caused the problem. Your doctor may want to know this information or have it examined.
If you got sick after eating in a restaurant or other public place, call your local health department. By reporting your problem, you may keep other people from getting sick.
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What Should I Eat During Chemotherapy
Read Time: 2 minutes
Joan Elizondo, RD, CSO
Joan Elizondo, RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian at Huntsman Cancer Institute. She is passionate about helping patients reach their nutrition goals through their cancer journey. Here, she provides answers to some frequently asked questions patients getting chemotherapy have about their diets.
Chemotherapy treatment is a roller coaster. One week, you feel horrible and the next week you feel great. Your body goes through a lot of stress during treatment and food gives your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong.
Think of food as a delicious form of medicine. Your appetite will improve, and side effects will decrease after treatment is complete. Every day will get a little better. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Try to eat a healthy diet during chemotherapy. Your body uses a lot of energy, so it is important that you eat enough calories. Chemotherapy affects each person differently, but here is a good rule to follow. Your normal plate should be about 75% fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The other 25% should be lean meats or plant-based proteins. Still, you do not have to eat a perfectly balanced diet every day. Get as close to your calorie and protein goals as you can. Eat what foods sound good and what you tolerate best.
What About Supplements Are There Any That Should Be Avoided During Chemo
In general, you should limit the use of most dietary supplements during chemotherapy to minimize the risk of the nutrients interacting with the chemotherapy medicine. If you are interested in taking supplements during chemotherapy treatment, talk to your oncologist BEFORE you take anything.
You also should avoid any supplement that contains highly concentrated forms of a food or beverage during breast cancer chemotherapy.
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Vitamin And Mineral Supplements For Cancer
If youre eating a good diet, theres usually no need to take extra vitamins and minerals when you have cancer. Your doctor may recommend a multivitamin and mineral supplement if youre finding it hard to get all the nutrients you need from your food. There may be other times when your doctor might recommend particular supplements. For instance, they may recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements if youre having hormone treatments for prostate or breast cancer. This is to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
If youre thinking of taking a supplement, its important to speak to one of your healthcare team first. This is because advice on supplements can differ depending on which treatment youre having. Certain vitamins and minerals might affect how some cancer treatments work. Your doctor, nurse or dietitian can give you advice on your diet and exactly what supplements might be suitable for you.
Why Does Chemo Cause Nausea
Chemotherapy is an intensive cancer treatment that has some negative side effects. One of the main ones is nausea. Chemo patients can feel nauseous for several reasons while undergoing treatment. Its helpful to understand why nausea occurs after chemo so you can learn how to minimize it.
When the medicines from chemo enter your body, they are treated as foreign substances. Chemo is a rigorous treatment that targets cancer cells and can negatively impact other bodily processes and cells. As you receive chemo, your body triggers feelings of nausea intentionally. Because chemo can be seen as harmful by your body, it will try to rid itself of toxins through vomiting. Thats what causes that queasy feeling.
That being said, everyones body responds to chemo differently. You may feel nauseous before receiving treatment, as your body anticipates it. You could feel very nauseous immediately after treatment or feel sick for several days after. Chemo patients can expect to feel nauseous because of the nature of the treatment.
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Combating Chemo Fatigue With Diet
It is very common to feel tired and lacking in energy after chemotherapy, this can affect your appetite and make it difficult to eat well.
Here are some suggestions which may help you to eat after chemo:
- Small frequent meals or snacks can be easier to manage than large meals.
- Having your main meal at lunchtime can help as you may find you are too tired in the evening.
- Accept offers of help with preparing food and meals.
- Dont worry about using ready meals or ready prepared foods, they are fine in the short term.
- If you cook a meal try to make a larger portion and freeze the rest for days when you may feel more tired than usual.
What Do I Eat After Chemotherapy And For The Next Few Days
- Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day .
- Eat lower fat, blander foods!
- Try colder or cool foods these give off less odor and aroma and are especially important if you feel nauseous. Hot foods can have a more pronounced odor, therefore causing an aversion to certain foods.
- Drink fluids frequentlythis will prevent dehydration and remove some of the byproducts of the chemotherapy. Water is the best, but there are other sources of fluids such as:
- Apple and grape juice
- Herbal teas, such as ginger and mint
- Weak black teas
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Food Safety Tips At A Restaurant
When eating out at a restaurant, follow this guidance to help keep you safe:
Consider avoiding buffets and salad bars. This food tends to sit out for a long time and comes in contact with many people. Someone who has a virus or other germs may touch it.
Put any leftover food in a âto-goâ container yourself, rather than having the server do it. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as you get home.
Choose restaurants that are clean and that are willing to prepare your food as you order it cooked.
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What To Eat Before Chemotherapy
Before chemotherapy begins, a person should eat a healthy diet and try to maintain a moderate weight. A healthy diet should include various fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes. People should try to limit refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and ultra-processed foods in any healthy diet.
Eating a healthy diet before chemotherapy may help a person lower their risk of infection, cope with side effects better, and have a greater chance of receiving treatment without unplanned breaks.
During this time, a person can prepare for eating while going through chemotherapy. It can be helpful to stock the freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards with healthy foods that a person enjoys. Foods that require little or no cooking and preparation time, such as frozen dinners, can be helpful.
It might also be helpful to cook food ahead of time and freeze meals. A person should include items they know they can eat even when they feel unwell.
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How Can Your Diet Help Manage Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Some dietary changes can help you manage side effects after your treatment begins. These side effects include:
- Appetite loss. Eat small meals or nutritious snacks throughout the day, rather than three large meals.
- Constipation. Drink plenty of water, consider a fiber supplement, and add veggies and beans to your meals.
- Diarrhea. Choose foods or drinks with sodium and potassium .
- Loss of taste. Knowing what to eat when you cant taste can be difficult. Consider trying new foods with different spices or marinades. You can also add strong flavors, such as lemon or lime juice.
- Nausea. Anti-nausea foods include citrus, ginger and peppermint oil. You can suck on a slice of lemon, drink ginger tea or eat ginger chews.
How To Treat A Metallic Taste In The Mouth From Chemo
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth which can also influence how you feel about food. While the presence of a dry mouth can also cause taste changes as you need saliva to taste food.
Here are some suggestions which can help with a metallic taste in the mouth:
- Drink plenty of fluids, you may find it helpful to have a glass of water with your meals and to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day.
- Eating cold or warm foods may be more palatable than hot.
- Use wooden or bamboo cutlery if you have a metallic taste in your mouth.
- If you find meat tastes different and disagreeable, try using a marinade.
- Adding more seasoning, spice and herbs can help make food more interesting if you have a loss of taste, provided you dont have a sore mouth. On the other hand, some people find that bland foods taste better.
- Keep trying different foods gradually as your taste will improve over time.
- Oral hygiene is important so brush your teeth regularly and use a gentle mouthwash. Try using a childrens toothpaste if you find that you are sensitive to your usual toothpaste.
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