Diet for Chemo Patients: Foods to Eat & Foods to Avoid

Cancer is an extremely serious disease where there is uncontrolled multiplication and division of the cells resulting in formation of tumor which can spread and invade to other areas and organs of the body. Cancer disrupts the patient’s stamina, mental abilities and energy. It is important to take proper food which has essential nutrients for maintaining metabolism and the strength to fight cancer.

Diet for Chemo Patients

Diet for Chemo Patients

For every cancer patient, a diet chart is prepared by the cancer department so that they do not eat or consume anything against the treatment. Spicy food items and soft drinks are not recommended. So, to boost energy and to get healthy while fighting this monster, the cancer patient has to follow an appropriate diet.

Some of the necessary foods should be consumed while chemotherapy is in process.

What Foods to Eat During Chemo?

  1. Nutritional Supplement Liquid Food:- Instant breakfast items supplement shakes and butter milk are some items, which a cancer patient can have for breakfast during chemotherapy. Eggs, porridge and butter tortilla is also good for health. Patient should try to consume fat integrated products, so that his/her body can regain the weight lost during chemotherapy and the fight against the cancer.
  2. Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter greatly improves the taste of food whether applied on bread, cracker or toast and it is great in nutritional value too. During the brunch period of a day, the cancer patient can consume fruit salad as well as bread with peanut butter. Usually, cancer patients will experience decrease in appetite because of which they are not able to take complete meals even twice a day. Peanut butter has essential vitamins, protein and folic acids, which are lost during the chemotherapy sessions. Blood is burnt during the treatment, which is very important to regain by eating good food. So peanut butter is also a very good option to incorporate in diet during chemotherapy.
  3. Fish and Red Meat: Beef, fish, poultry and pork are very good supply of proteins and other nutrients which the cancer patient badly needs during chemo. The more protein they consume, the more energy is gained for fighting against cancer. Beef can be used for burger, hams and smoked barbeque. The taste of beef becomes more delicious and acceptable by the chemo patient when it is cooked with low salt integrated with whole spices. Add some shredded chicken and virgin olive oil. Other than this, white meat like tuna fish and chicken sandwiches can be added in whole course meals for complete nutrition during chemotherapy.
  4. Beans and lentils: Lentils are very healthy as they contain lean mass fat as well as protein. Boil lentils completely and then add salt, raw mango powder and some onion fried in little oil. Besides lentils, cancer patients can also add kidney beans to their meals. They can be added in salads or a dish with tomatoes can be prepared combined with boiled rice. Beans and lentils are a high source of vegetarian protein and should be consumed by the cancer patient during chemotherapy for good health.
  5. Fruits: Fruits are good for health and are rich in antioxidants. Dry fruits are calorie dense, which gives good boost for energy. Almonds, resins, cashew nuts and walnuts are very essential for healthy body after and during chemotherapy sessions. Mouth sores is a common side effect of chemotherapy which the cancer patients have to suffer from; and in such cases, citrus fruits should be avoided, such as tangerines, grapefruits and oranges, to avoid aggravating the mouth sores occurring as a side effect of chemotherapy.
  6. Cheese: There are different types of cheeses which are high in full fat and protein. A plain salad can become tasty by adding some cheese toppings. Cheese is an excellent snack that a cancer patient can have after coming back from a chemotherapy session. The cancer patient can nibble on some cheese in between the main meals to keep his/her energy levels up.
  7. Water: It is important that the cancer patient stays adequately hydrated and sips water continuously daily irrespective of chemotherapy. Drinking sufficient water aids digestion, relieves mouth dryness, helps with healing of the mouth sores and keeps patient active throughout the day.

What Foods to Avoid During Chemo?

The following are some of the common side effects of chemotherapy:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Insomnia.
  • Indigestion.
  • Mood swings.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Mouth dryness.
  • Aches and pain in body.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Changes in the tongue sensations. The saliva produces metallic or bitter taste
  • Throat inflammation and difficulty in swallowing.

Due to the side effects of chemotherapy, the cancer patient should AVOID the following type of foods during chemotherapy:

Hot and spicy foods such as hot pepper and curries should be avoided.

High fiber foods such as raw vegetables and fruits should be avoided on regular basis. Coarse whole grains can create problems in digestion, especially if the cancer patient is also having nausea and vomiting while undergoing chemotherapy.

Fatty, greasy and deep fried food should be avoided, as it aggravates the digestion problem, the mouth sores and adds no nutritional value to the diet of the cancer patient.

Must Have Essential Nutrients in Chemotherapy Diet

Proper eating can help a cancer patient in feeling better during or after chemotherapy. The decreased energy levels can be regained by consuming the essential nutrients in the diet which consist of:

  • Protein: Protein is known for building and repairing tissues in the body. A cancer ridden body needs multiple dosage of protein to repair as well as compensate for the decreased levels of protein and energy. Peanut butter, fish, chicken, beef loaf and soybeans can be a good option in food preparations in order to increase the levels of protein in a body.
  • Fats: Fats which contain vitamins and calcium are good. So drinking full cream milk or chocolate shake can be a good fat substitute. Saturated fat is good, but fried fat is extremely harmful. So here we are talking about fat that is available through cream, cheese, whole milk and olive oil.
  • Fiber: Bowel movement is affected directly because of cancer and certain medications used in chemotherapy cause constipation. In order to keep the digestive system clean and in good health, fiber integrated fruits and food items are helpful. Cereals, breads made with whole grain and fruit legumes are beneficial.
  • Carbohydrates: Necessary elements are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Body needs major source of energy which carbohydrates can give. Food items which provide carbs are rice, oatmeal, cereal, pasta and potatoes.
  • Water Intake: The more you drink, the more toxins gets eliminated from the body. Water works as detoxification catalyst and helps in alleviating nausea and other chemotherapy side effects. You can also add antioxidant rich drinks like apple, mint and cucumber water. The vitamins and necessary minerals are extracted in the water and this water should be consumed within 24 hours.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 30, 2018

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