Eating well when you have cancer means eating enough to prevent weight loss and keep your strength up. Cancer and cancer treatments can make it harder for your body to get what it needs from the food you eat. And your body needs good nutrition to prevent infection and heal quickly. You may
feel better and have more energy if you eat the right kinds of food before, during, and after your treatment.
You may find it hard to eat during treatment for cancer
have problems with side effects of treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, or
You may have a dry mouth or trouble swallowing after radiation treatments.
Foods may taste different.
You may not feel like eating if you are uncomfortable, tired, depressed, or anxious.
Some people continue to enjoy food throughout most of their cancer
treatment. Others may have days when they don't feel like eating at all. Even
the thought of food may make them feel sick. Here are some things to keep in
Eat food that has protein and extra calories to
help you keep your strength and prevent weight loss. Try a liquid meal
replacement for extra calories and protein. Milk shakes are good
Your appetite may be better early in the day. Try having
your main meal of the day early. Or you may find it easier to eat smaller meals more often, instead of three large meals. You may feel more like eating if you do not
cook your own foods.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially when you
don't feel like eating. Water is good but lacks calories and electrolytes.
Carry a water bottle with you during the day. You can fill it with an energy
drink, such as Gatorade or Powerade, which has calories and electrolytes. That
may help you get into the habit of drinking plenty of fluids.
worry too much if you have a day where you cannot eat at all. Do what you can
to make yourself feel better and start eating as soon as you feel better. Be
sure to tell your doctor if you still can't eat after 1 or 2 days.
If you have serious problems eating and cannot get enough nutrients in your body, you may need to get nutrients another way. This can be done through a tube placed into your stomach or through intravenous (IV) fluids.
habits for people who have cancer may be very different from normal healthy eating guidelines. Additional information about nutrition is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nutrition/Patient.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.