What To Eat When You Have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Lymphomas are cancers which start growing in certain white blood cells called lymphocytes and since it originates in the blood its tendency to spread is quite high. As a result, the patient is at higher risk against germs, infections and diseases, and not being able to recover from them. Lymphomas are mainly divided into two types, namely – Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and these two entail different courses of treatment. This bifurcation is made by doctors based on the presence of some specific cell types in the cancer cells.

Some usual symptoms of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma are enlarged lymph nodes, chest pressure, fatigue, unwanted weight loss, loss of appetite and chills. A patient does not show any symptoms for long periods in some cases.

Common testing procedures are a biopsy of the cells, fluid sampling, lumbar puncture, imaging tests like MRI, CT scan, PET scan and blood tests including a complete blood count, testing for LDH, for hepatitis and for HIV.

Treatment varies with the extent, type and other factors related to non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and some procedures are:

  • Surgery
  • Stem cell transplant along with intensive chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies
  • Therapeutic inhibitors that target lymphoma
  • Only chemotherapy.

What To Eat When You Have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Patients are expected to deal with post-treatment care with utmost importance. There hasn’t been any research to show that a particular diet can cure lymphoma but a healthy diet is always suggested along with the follow-up care.

What To Eat When You Have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Eat Protein: Proteins are said to be the building blocks of our body and are also vital for repair. As a recovering non-hodgkin’s lymphoma patient, you should consume more than usual protein. Some protein-rich foods are pulses, eggs and any type of meat. But too much of red meat might be harmful, so keep red meat intake in check. Along with the above, dairy products are also a rich source of protein and calcium, which is important for the health of bones.

Eat Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide fiber and energy and should be a substantial portion of your food. Fibers are important for better digestion. Bread, rice, pasta and potatoes are food items that are rich in starch. Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma patients can find healthy alternatives in brown rice and brown bread.

Fat: Fats are useful for the vitamins and the energy that they provide to our body. Fats can be divided into two kinds – saturated and unsaturated, and the unsaturated kind is the one that is highly beneficial to us. Nuts, some animal fats and avocados are good sources of these fats. Excess intake of saturated fats which are found in products like cheese, butter, sausages is harmful to the body especially when you are recovering from treatment for non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Minerals And Vitamins: As a patient suffering from non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, your immune system is under a lot of stress and you need sufficient intake of minerals and vitamins in order to aid your immune system’s functioning and keeping your bones in good health. Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of vitamins and minerals and your diet should have more than usual amounts of fruits and vegetables. In case your doctor advises you to start with nutritional supplements, do take them.

As an overall description, your regular diet should consist:

  • meat, fish, eggs, pulses and dairy products
  • A third of carbohydrates (starchy) foods like bread, rice and potatoes
  • Some food high in fat and sugar
  • Ample amount of fruit and vegetables


While non-hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment is important and the cells may be completely gone, most treatment procedures harm the body through side effects and there is always a chance of cancer recurring. For some, the feat of complete cancer cell destruction might never be achieved and they may have to go through long-term therapy which is taxing for the body. Due to these reasons, a well-maintained diet is very important for non-hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors in order to cope with the side effects and through the process of recovery.

Also Read:

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:December 17, 2021

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