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A diet during chemotherapy is a diet that is supposed to strengthen the body, help you better withstand strenuous therapy and recover faster. Chemotherapy, which is used in cancer patients, weakens and reduces the appetite. To fight cancer, you need a lot of strength, so you need a smart diet. Check what are the rules of the chemotherapy diet and what a sample menu looks like.

Diet in chemotherapyis a diet whose primary role is to provide as many nutrients as possible in such a way that eating is not a punishment and a torment for the patient.

Cancer treatment with chemotherapy is a very exhausting period for the body, in which the nutritional needs and the need for individual nutrients are usually much higher than in the case of a he althy person. At the same time, in most cases, people undergoing chemotherapy face numerous mental and physical problems that prevent them from eating enough food.

Diet in chemotherapy - rules

There are several main principles of nutrition during chemotherapy, but remember thatdoes not have one dietfor cancer patients, and each patient's needs are slightly different. Diet with chemotherapy is to provide strength and energy for everyday functioning and to fight the side effects of treatment, because, as is well known, "chemistry" destroys not only cancer cells, but also he althy cells.

People who treat cancer have an increased need for protein and calories. This is due to the fact that the body is devastated by treatment and requires more protein and energy to rebuild tissues. Adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other bioactive phytochemicals is also important. The demand for them increases during treatment. In addition, they have an anti-inflammatory effect, and the process of neoplasms itself is strongly associated with chronic inflammation.

The diet of a person receiving chemotherapy should be based on vegetables, fruit, high-quality dairy products, meat, fish and eggs. It must be supplemented with he althy fats (especially hardened vegetable oils with a pro-inflammatory effect must be avoided) and as little processed as possible.carbohydrates (groats, cereals, bread). Some people will need a high-fiber diet while others will need a restriction-fiber diet. It depends on the side effects of chemotherapy.

Diet in chemotherapy - what can you eat?

People taking chemotherapy may experience one or more gastrointestinal side effects that affect food choices. Their occurrence and severity depend on the type of cancer, its location, type and duration of treatment, and the doses used. Eating ailments include:

  • loss of appetite
  • changes in taste and smell
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • feeling sick
  • vomiting
  • mouth pain
  • sore throat and swallowing problems
  • weight loss
  • weight gain

Often times, loss of appetite and nausea are caused not only by chemotherapy but also by stress. The nutritional management of patients with various treatment-related ailments is dependent on these side effects.

When a sick person loses his appetite

This is the most common problem during chemotherapy. In case of loss of appetite:

  • avoid eating large meals
  • eat 5-6 times a day or even more often
  • replace solid meals with liquid and use the so-called nutridrinki
  • have he althy and popular snacks on hand, e.g. dried fruit, rice cakes, peanut butter, fruit, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
  • drink drinks regularly throughout the day
  • drink drinks that provide calories, e.g. juices, buttermilk, fruit smoothies
  • eat a snack before going to bed
  • eat cold or frozen foods
  • do not drink while eating
  • eat larger meals while feeling well

When a sick person is constipated

The cause of constipation may be chemotherapy, but also often drinking too little fluid, not enough fiber in the diet and lack of exercise. In case of constipation you should:

  • drink at least 8 glasses of fluids a day
  • drink hot drinks
  • eat a lot of fiber: vegetables, whole grain bread, cereals, dried fruit, pulses

When you get tired of diarrhea

In the presence of diarrhea:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Water, dissolving electrolytes and sports drinks are recommended
  • avoid carbonated drinks
  • eat more frequent and smaller meals
  • eat foods rich in sodium and potassium: broth, bananas, potatoes, apricots andtomatoes
  • avoid foods rich in fiber, mainly whole grains grains
  • avoid fatty and fried foods
  • eat meals and drink drinks at room temperature, not too cold and not too hot
  • avoid legumes, raw vegetables and fruits, lactose milk, sugar-containing drinks, alcohol, spicy spices, coffee, apple juice, foods with xylitol or sorbitol

With dry mouth

Dry mouth is a condition in which the body produces less saliva than normal. This makes it difficult to speak, chew and swallow food. It can also alter the taste perception of food. If your mouth is dry:

  • drink water in small sips throughout the day and keep the water bottle close to you
  • eat very sour and very sweet products as they stimulate salivation
  • chew gum or suck on candies, dried fruit, etc.
  • eat food that is easy to swallow, liquid, mushy, soft
  • soften food, using sauces, toppings
  • avoid alcohol and spicy foods

When you feel sick

Nausea is a common condition that prevents you from getting the right amount of nutrients. Nausea is a fairly common side effect of chemotherapy, but it usually clears up within a few days of having the "chemotherapy" given. If you feel sick you should:

  • eat easily digestible products, e.g. white bread, natural yoghurt, semolina, baked apple, broth, etc.
  • eat 5-6 small meals a day
  • try not to skip meals, but rather reduce their volume and eat them later as snacks. An empty stomach increases nausea in many people
  • choose foods that are liked and attractive, do not force yourself to eat meals that make nausea worse
  • avoid drinking during meals
  • drink drinks in small sips, slowly, throughout the day
  • eat meals and drink drinks at room temperature, not too cold and not too hot
  • eat rusks just before going to bed if nausea is getting worse in the morning
  • avoid meals with a strong taste and smell

When you vomit

Vomiting occurs as a consequence of nausea, but also odor sensitivity and the stress of illness and treatment. Nutritional management of vomiting includes:

  • Avoid eating and drinking completely when vomiting
  • drinking a little water or broth after vomiting is over
  • introducing a liquid meal (cocktail, soup) if vomiting does not come back after drinking the liquid
  • eating often insmall portions

When it hurts in the mouth

Mouth pain results from the small sores and sores that may form in the mouth as a result of treatment. In order not to worsen discomfort while eating, you should:

  • choose foods that are easy to chew, soft
  • cook food until soft
  • soften food by adding sauces or yogurt
  • break food into small pieces
  • drink drinks through a straw
  • eat meals at room temperature or cold
  • Avoid products that can cause pain: citrus fruits, fruit juices, lemonade, spicy spices, curry dishes, tomatoes, ketchup, s alty food, raw, hard vegetables, crunchy foods such as crackers, granola, crisps , alcohol

With a sore throat and difficulty swallowing

This condition occurs mainly when chemotherapy is used to destroy rapidly multiplying cells. These include the cells that line the esophagus. The diet for this problem includes:

  • eating frequent, low-volume meals
  • choosing meals that are easy to swallow, liquid, soft, no crunchy, hard elements
  • eating foods rich in protein and calories
  • cook products until soft
  • soften food with sauces, broth or yoghurt
  • drink while eating
  • avoid: hot drinks and food, spicy spices, acidic vegetables and fruits, crunchy hard products, alcohol

When there are changes in taste and smell

Cancer treatment often changes the way things taste and smell. Patients complain of an increased sensitivity to smell and loss of taste. The condition disappears after the end of treatment. How to deal with it? You should:

  • choose food that smells good and looks good for a sick person
  • do not force yourself to eat that is perceived as unappetizing
  • marinate food to improve its taste
  • eat and drink sour foods
  • Sweeten food that seems bitter, s alty or tasteless
  • use spices and herbs

When a patient is losing weight

All of the above side effects of chemotherapy most often lead to a reduction in food and therefore weight loss. How to proceed to avoid excessive weight loss? You should:

  • eat meals without feeling hungry
  • eat 5-6 meals a day
  • choose foods rich in protein and calories
  • drink smoothies, shakes, soups if you have trouble eating solid meals
  • drink cocktailsprotein and so-called nutridrinki

Diet in chemotherapy - how to make it he althier?

  1. Keep items you like in the fridge and freezer. Especially vegetables, fruits, dairy products and fish.
  2. Ask family and friends for help with shopping and cooking when you feel unwell after a dose of chemotherapy.
  3. Eat plenty of protein (eggs, fish, meat, dairy) and calories when you can - when you feel well enough to eat. This will help you gain strength during treatment and accelerate tissue restoration.
  4. Eat when you have the greatest appetite. Most of the time it is morning.
  5. If you don't feel like solid meals, try the liquid ones - soups, fruit and vegetable smoothies, protein shakes.
  6. Don't force yourself to eat if you just can't eat.
  7. Tell your doctor if you are not eating for more than two days.
  8. Divide your meals into smaller ones and eat multiple times a day
  9. Drink plenty of fluids. Especially when you can't eat. Drink 8-12 glasses of fluid daily
  10. Avoid food poisoning. Eat fresh produce. Do not store food outside the refrigerator. Put food leftovers in the refrigerator immediately. Do not eat leftovers that have been stored for more than three days.
  11. Scrub and soak fruits and vegetables before eating. Also those from which you peel the skin, e.g. oranges.
  12. Also wash frozen vegetables and fruits.
  13. Wash your hands thoroughly before, during and after cooking.
  14. Use pasteurized dairy products and juices.
  15. Roast nuts and seeds in a pan. Avoid raw and long stored shelled.
  16. Don't eat raw fish and seafood.
  17. Do not eat food that has developed mold. Avoid blue cheeses.
Worth knowing

Chemotherapy and diet quality

One of the studies analyzing the diet of women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy has shown that the treatment significantly changes the diet for a worse one, reduces its quality. This seems pretty obvious, as even he althy people have a hard time following a proper diet full of vegetables, he althy fats and protein. Chemotherapy and the disease additionally make patients weak, resigned and have no energy to plan meals, shopping and cooking.

The study shows that in as many as 49% of cases the diet was strongly deficient, and the diet of almost all the women subjected to the study was assessed as requiring changes.

Particularly deficiencies in the consumption of green and orange vegetables and legume seeds were found. Macro- and micronutrients, the deficiencies of which are the most common: calcium, iron,magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc.

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Author: Time S.A

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Diet in chemotherapy - a sample menu

Diet in chemotherapy will be different for each patient, depending on the side effects of the treatment they experience. The most frequently reported problems appear to be loss of appetite, nausea, and constipation. An exemplary menu is tailored to these ailments.

Day 1

  • Breakfast

Sandwiches: sourdough rye bread with butter + cottage cheese + high-quality sausage + lettuce + tomato + radish

  • 2nd breakfast

Dried apricots + natural yoghurt

  • Lunch

Boiled pearl barley with carrots and peas

Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Mizeria with natural yoghurt

  • Snack


  • Afternoon tea

Hummus + vegetables, e.g. carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes

  • Dinner

Zucchini cream soup served with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roasted pumpkin seeds

Day 2

  • Breakfast

Soft-boiled eggs Tomatoes with chives and olive oil

  • 2nd breakfast

Cold cheesecake with strawberries and jelly

  • Lunch

Tagliatelle pasta with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, chicken breast, basil and olive oil

  • Snack

Cocktail of 1 serving of protein supplement with milk or water

  • Afternoon tea

A cocktail of 2-3 handfuls of spinach, 1 apple and 1/2 banana (thin with water)

  • Dinner

Graham bun with butter, cheese and tomato

Day 3

  • Breakfast

Omelette with arugula, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and olive oil

  • 2nd breakfast

Peanut Butter Rice Wafers

  • Lunch

Beef meatballs in tomato sauce with Mexican spices, parsley + red beans + rice cooked separately

  • Snack


  • Afternoon tea

Buttermilk + strawberries

  • Dinner

Chicken noodle soup

  • A he althy diet after chemotherapy - what to eat while treating cancer
  • How to prepare for chemotherapy - practical advice

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