Nutrition and Cancer Treatment

When you have cancer, good nutrition takes on an even greater role. It is important for you to maintain your strength and weight to boost your immune system and allow you to better handle your treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may make it difficult for you to get the nutrients you need from the foods you eat. Since everyone is different, not everyone will experience these side effects to treatment. If you do, use the tips below to handle the effects as they occur.

Feeling full all the time (loss of appetite)

Eat small frequent meals

  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly to prevent becoming full too quickly.
  • Limit the amount of liquids you drink at meals.
  • Drink liquids of high nutritive value such as juices or milkshakes
  • Keep snacks handy to eat when you are hungry. Try peanut butter, cheese, ice cream, or granola bars

Changes in the way food tastes

  • Use acidic foods such as lemon wedges or other citrus fruits and jices to stimulate taste buds.
  • Use strong seasonings, such as onion, garlic, and chili powder, when preparing foods.
  • Drink liquids or suck on candies to eliminate bad taste.
  • Increase the sugar in foods
  • Eat frozen fruits such as cantaloupe, grapes, and watermelon

Nausea and vomiting

  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Avoid unpleasant odors.
  • Avoid hot, spicy, strong-smelling or fried, greasy foods.
  • Avoid drinking liquids at meals
  • Eat dry foods, such as crackers, toast, dry cereals every 2-3 hours during the day


  • Choose high fiber foods for meals and snacks
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Hot liquids act as stimulants and may be helpful.
  • Exercise
  • Eat at regular times each day
  • Eat breakfast, including high fiber foods and a hot beverage


  • Avoid high fiber and greasy or fatty foods.
  • Avoid vegetables and fruits with skins
  • Include high potassium foods such as bananas, potatoes, and orange juice
  • Replace fluid loss with clear liquids between meals.
  • Limit milk and milk products to 2 cups a day.
  • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day.

Problems with mouth and teeth

  • Choose soft foods or use a blender to puree your foods.
  • Avoid rough, course, or dry foods.
  • Moisten foods with soups, thin gravies, butter, or cream sauces.
  • Cold foods may be soothing
  • Suck on sour lemon drops, frozen grapes, popsicles, or ice chips.
  • Use a straw to drink liquids