Cancer Patient Diet During Chemotherapy

Cancer Patient Diet During Chemotherapy
27 Nov 2023
9 mins
Table Of Content
Cancer Patient Diet During Chemotherapy

    Navigating through chemotherapy for cancer treatment is a challenging journey, and what makes it even trickier is how it can affect your appetite and eating habits. But worry not! We have a guide filled with simple yet powerful tips to help you manage the hurdles and keep yourself well-nourished during this phase. Let's explore these diet options and make your mealtime a bit more manageable and delicious!


    Diet During Your Chemotherapy Day: A Mealtime Blueprint


    It is recommended that you eat lightly on your chemotherapy day. Eating small portions slowly every few hours works best. Avoid skipping meals on these days and stay away from fatty, greasy, or spicy foods. Now, let's explore your diet choices that you can add before, during, and after that day:


    I. Before Chemotherapy:


    On the day of your chemotherapy, it is wise to go easy on your digestive system. Here is a menu to consider:


    1. Plain or Fruited Yogurt:

    A gentle, nutritious option that won't overwhelm your stomach.


    2. Fresh Fruit and Cottage Cheese:

    A refreshing combo offering vitamins and protein.


    3. Poached Egg and Toast:

    A simple, protein-packed choice that's gentle on the stomach.


    4. Toasted Bagel with Peanut Butter:

    Satisfying yet light, providing sustained energy.


    5. Cereal and Milk:

    Opt for lactose-free alternatives like chewable pills or Soy milk.


    6. Chicken Rice Soup with Saltine Crackers:

    Warm and comforting, easy on digestion.


    Remember, the key is small, consistent portions throughout the day. Avoid fatty, greasy, or spicy foods to avoid discomfort.


    II. During Chemotherapy:


    While undergoing chemotherapy, keep your energy up with bland snacks:


    1. Low Acid Juices:

    Apple, grape, and fruit nectars are gentle on the stomach.


    2. Liquid Yogurts:

    Easy to consume, packed with essential nutrients.


    3. Fruits like Bananas:

    Portable and easily digestible.


    4. Crackers/Biscuits:

    A light option to settle your stomach.


    Stay hydrated with a water bottle. Avoid acidic foods that may irritate your digestive tract.


    III. After Chemotherapy and for the Next Few Days:


    As you recover, focus on nutrition with these tips:


    1. Small, Frequent Meals:

    Aim for 5-6 smaller meals instead of three large ones.


    2. Lower-Fat, Bland Foods:

    Opt for foods that ease your digestive system.


    3. Cooler Foods:

    Choose colder options to minimize strong odors, especially if you're feeling nauseous.


    4. Hydration is Key:

    Drink fluids regularly, with options like apple and grape juice, low-salt broth, or herbal teas.


    Chemo Bites: Savoring Solutions for Side Effects


    Facing chemotherapy can be tough because they are designed to knock out those sneaky cancer cells. But here's the tricky part – they can also affect the good guys, your healthy cells. And when that happens, you might run into eating issues that impact your diet. Let's explore these side effects of chemotherapy and how to manage them through diet.


    1. Feeling Blocked Up (Constipation):


    What is Constipation? Think of it as a traffic jam in your body, making bowel movements hard and uncomfortable. 


    Combat it with:

    • Staying Hydrated: Drink at least 8 cups of liquids daily.
    • Drinking Warm Liquids: Try coffee, tea, or soup to ease discomfort.
    • Fiber Power: Whole grains, dried fruits, and beans are constipation fighters.

    Soothing Chemo-Induced Constipation: Try Apple Prune Sauce 

    This simple and effective recipe for Apple Prune Sauce is designed to provide relief from constipation. 

    • Recipe: To prepare, blend 1/3 cup unprocessed bran, 1/3 cup applesauce, and 1/3 cup mashed stewed prunes thoroughly.
    • Afterward, store the mixture in the refrigerator for convenience. For optimal results, take 1 to 2 tablespoons of this mixture before bedtime, followed by the consumption of 8 ounces of water.
    • It's essential to ensure you drink the water to experience the intended relief from constipation. With a yield of 16 servings, each tablespoon of this Apple Prune Sauce amounts to just 10 calories, making it a healthy and low-calorie option.

    2. The Runny Tummy Situation (Diarrhea):


    What is Diarrhea? It's like a speed race for your digestive system, causing frequent, watery bowel movements.


     Manage it with:

    - Stay Hydrated: Drink fluids to replace what you lose during diarrhea.

    - Let Fizz Fade: Avoid carbonated drinks; skip foods that worsen diarrhea.

    - Mini Meals: Opt for 5 or 6 small meals a day.

    - Sodium and Potassium Boost: Consume foods high in sodium and potassium.

    - Low-Fiber Delights: Stick to low-fiber options.

    - Temperature Matters: Enjoy foods and drinks at room temperature.


    3. The Tiredness Tango (Fatigue):


    What's Fatigue? It's an overwhelming tiredness affecting your energy levels and appetite


    Combat it with:

    - Sip on Goodness: Go for protein shakes, smoothies, or milkshakes.

    - Mini Meals: Swap big meals for smaller, more frequent ones.

    - Snack Attack: Keep snacks handy—peanut butter crackers, nuts, granola bars.

    - Power Up Protein and Calories: Boost your diet with extra protein and calories.

    - Stay hydrated, drink nutrient-rich liquids regularly.

    - Midnight Snack Magic: Have a small bedtime snack.

    - Get Creative with Food: Experiment with different forms, like a fruit milkshake.

    - Cool and Comforting Foods: Opt for soft, cool, or frozen options.

    - Time It Right: Plan larger meals when you feel well and rested.

    - Sip and Savor: During meals, take small sips of liquids.

    Recipe Tips: Tantalize Your Taste Buds with Banana Milkshake

    • Boost your appetite with a delicious Banana Milkshake. Simply slice a whole ripe banana and place it in a blender.
    • Add a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 cup of your preferred milk—whether whole milk, 2% milk, or soy milk.
    • Blend at high speed until smooth. This delightful shake not only tantalizes your taste buds but also provides nutritional benefits.

    4. Missing the Flavor Party (Loss of Taste):


    When your favorite foods are suddenly not tasting so great, that's a loss of taste for you. Loss of taste or Changes in taste or smell can happen during chemotherapy. 


    Elevate your meals with:

    - Pick the Winners: Choose foods that still look and smell delicious.

    - Marination Magic: Boost flavor with marinades.

    - Tangy Treats: Experiment with tart foods and drinks.

    - Sweeten the Deal: Add sugar to balance tastes.

    - Flavorful Upgrades: Enhance meals with bacon bits, onions, herbs, and sauces.


    5. The Nausea and Vomiting Rollercoaster:


    What is Nausea? Ever felt that queasy, uneasy feeling in your stomach? That's nausea. 


    Nausea Survival Guide:

    - Gentle on the Stomach Foods: Opt for stomach-friendly choices.

    - Mini Meals Power: Swap three large meals for smaller, more frequent ones.

    - Don't Skip, Even if You're Not Hungry: Eating can help, even when not hungry.

    - Follow Your Cravings: Choose foods that appeal to you.

    - Sip, Don't Guzzle: Take small sips of liquids during meals.

    What is Vomiting? Vomiting, the dramatic exit from the stage, might follow after nausea. 


    Deal it with:

    - Hold Off on Eating or Drinking: Give your stomach a break.

    - Start Slow with Clear Liquids: Ease back in with small sips.

    - Gradual Reintroduction to Foods: Move to full-liquid and solid foods gradually.

    - Mini Meals Rule: Stick to 5 or 6 small meals daily.


    Life After Chemo: Your Top Queries Answered


    1. Can diet help prevent cancer recurrence? 

    After cancer treatment, some alter their diet, hoping to reduce cancer recurrence. Evidence, mainly from bowel and breast cancer studies, suggests diet may influence cancer recurrence. However, there's no clear advice for specific cancer types. Cancer experts recommend maintaining a healthy, balanced diet post-treatment, similar to cancer prevention guidelines. Factors increasing cancer risk may also impact recurrence risk. Hence, improve your post-cancer health through a balanced diet.

    2. What dessert recipe is suitable for chemo patients?

    Consider trying Better Brownies – made with whole grain flour, gluten-free, healthy fats, and bursting with flavor.  Indulge in guilt-free delights with these Better Brownies, specially crafted for cancer patients as part of nutrition services. Simply follow this cooking directions for a delicious treat! 

    • The preparation involves a simple combination of dry ingredients, melted chocolate with olive oil, and a frothy egg mixture sweetened with maple syrup and sugar.
    • Baked to perfection, these brownies offer a delightful texture with optional walnuts for added crunch.
    • Follow the easy cooking directions for a delicious outcome, and refrigerate for an hour before cutting into 16 squares. Treat yourself to these nutrient-packed brownies, embracing both health and taste.

     3. Can I take dietary supplements during chemotherapy?

    A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables often covers your nutrient needs by choosing cancer-reducing foods. If maintaining such a diet is challenging, consider talking to your doctor, nurse, or dietitian before opting for multivitamins or mineral supplements. They can provide personalized advice based on your situation, ensuring you take the right supplements in suitable doses.


    The Bottom Line


    Navigating chemotherapy is undoubtedly a challenging journey, but a thoughtful and gentle approach to your diet can contribute to your overall well-being. Remember to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and seek professional guidance to ensure you're nourishing yourself effectively during this time. Consider making an appointment with a cancer dietitian to personalize your nutrition plan. These experts can provide tailored advice to meet your unique needs and help manage your nutrition during chemotherapy. Your health is a priority, and by taking small, intentional steps, you're supporting your body through this process.


    "Nourish Your Strength and Taste the Victory with Healthy Options."

    Written by
    Dr VijayalakshmiMedical Content Writer
    AboutDr. Vijayalakshmi is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. She completed her Bachelor of Dentistry (BDS) from Sri Ramakrishna Dental College, Coimbatore, in 2022, where she expertise in dental and clinical research. During her internship, she has also worked on various research projects and presented scientific papers in national UG seminars. Post her UG, she has upskilled in pharmacovigilance regulations and clinical trial methodology through certification courses. She is proficient in researching, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content and blogs.