What Not to Eat When You Have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

If you have Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it is important that you are cautious with what you eat. This is generally dependent on your symptoms since some foods can worsen your well-being and your body sense while exhibiting these symptoms. Many patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma often experience gastrointestinal side effects including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and even constipation. Needless say, the immune system is vulnerable to infections, so if you do not watch what you eat, the level of your immunity is also compromised. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a lymphatic system cancer that affects lymphocytes and at large, the lymph nodes. Since the lymphatic system is part of the immune system, your immunity is at stake. Adding to that, most treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma leaves your body weak and eating unhealthy foods can deter quick recovery and the general feel of your body.

What Not to Eat When You Have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

There is no specific diet for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but you could start your own diet and that should be well-balanced. In other words, ensure what you eat is inclusive of carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and stay hydrated. On the other hand, you should avoid foods which impair your immune system further or have no additional value to your overall health. In other cases, the patients may exhibit symptoms of mouth sores and taste changes, which automatically mean there are foods you should not be taking. Foods to avoid or keep at a minimum for Hodgkin’s lymphoma include;

  • Foods with saturated and Trans fat. You should keep consumption of these fats at a minimum of 10 percent or lower.
  • Large intake of sugars and salt.
  • Caffeinated beverages – opt for decaffeinated beverages instead. However, if you must take caffeine, ensure your drink is rich in fiber. Caffeinated drinks can cause dehydration.
  • Do not eat spicy foods when you have Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Raw or uncooked foods because they could contain bacteria which could lead to foodborne disease and worsen your condition altogether.
  • Do not eat refrigerated foods when you have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If food has been in the refrigerator for a while, it is best you stay clear of it. As a patient of lymphoma, fresh meals are healthier and have a greater nutritional value compared to refrigerated food.
  • Types of fish containing mercury levels.
  • Deep fried, baked, barbecued and grilled meats. In short, avoid animal proteins that have been cooked in high heat since they create carcinogenic byproducts. To be on the safe side, opt for lean meats and plant proteins.
  • Processed meats e.g. bacon, hotdog, and ham sausages as well as deli-foods.
  • Preserved foods are to be avoided when you have Hodgkin’s lymphoma because they contain nitrites which are carcinogenic.
  • Alcohol since it can lower your immune system abilities and also leads to dehydration.

Importance of Good Nutrition While Living With Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

If you are a patient with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, nutrition is of importance during your treatment and recovery. This is because eating well has numerous benefits to the body including reversing unexplained weight loss, providing your body with enough strength to withstand treatment i.e., radiation therapy and chemotherapy side effects. In addition to that, good nutrition will boost your immunity thus help your body fight against any infections while providing your body with energy to suffice fast recovery. Every individual with Hodgkin’s lymphoma has different nutritional needs depending on their medical history, prognosis, and treatment. Therefore, you should consult your healthcare provider and come up with a suitable wellness plan that will serve your needs.


When you have cancer, your overall immunity is affected and eating unhealthy foods can diminish the little ability left of your immune system. Therefore, it is important that you eat well so as to avoid worsening the existent condition. Foods that add no nutritional value should be avoided at all cost. Needless say, you should be observant of food safety measures so as to reduce the risk of infections including foodborne diseases. Ensure you wash your hands properly and before and after handling foods. Also, make sure you wash any raw foods i.e. fruits properly before eating them. Raw or uncooked meats, sushi, eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products should also be avoided.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 30, 2021

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