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Diet That You Should Take After Chemotherapy

Diet You Should Take After Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment which involves taking one or multiple drugs to fight cancer cells in a person’s body. Its symptoms include fatigue, nausea, dry mouth and taste changes and can make eating seem like a task and unappealing. It is important to eat a balanced and healthy diet during your cancer treatment for the optimal functioning of your body. 

People who have been diagnosed with cancer usually need to follow a different diet, which ensures they can deal with the side effects of the treatment with adequate strength. They often require extra calories and protein. Some of the best options include foods which are nutrient-dense, easy on your stomach and mild in flavour. 

During the cancer treatment, knowing the type of foods to consume, like bland foods for mouth sores and wet or creamy textured food for a dry mouth may help provide the necessary nourishment for your body. Additionally, incorporating food safety practices is also important to reduce the risk of food poisoning. A proper diet helps a person maintain a healthy weight, manage the side effects of the treatment, preserve the body’s immune system, reduce inflammation and increase energy levels and muscle tone.

What to Eat/not Eat before Chemotherapy?

Before chemotherapy starts, you should try to maintain a moderate weight and eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet should include legumes, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Ultra-processed foods, added sugars and refined carbohydrates should be reduced in a healthy diet.  

This healthy diet will help lower the risk of infection, increase the chance of receiving treatment without unplanned breaks and cope with side effects better. During this period, you can prepare by stocking up healthy and comfort foods which a person enjoys. Frozen dinners can also be useful as they require little or no cooking and preparation time. 

Also Read: How Chemotherapy Works Against Cancer

What to Eat or Avoid during Chemotherapy?

Once the cancer treatment starts, a person’s body will require healthy and nutritious foods to function at its best. It is vital to get enough proteins and calories during this time. 

  • You should eat foods containing health-promoting properties, high protein foods, vegetables and brightly coloured fruits. 
  • Highly processed and sugary food consumption needs to be kept at a minimum.
  • Hard-boiled eggs, crackers, chicken salad, nuts and seeds and yoghurt are some protein-rich snacks which may help maintain energy and strength. 

A person’s eating habits may be affected by the side effects experienced during chemotherapy. For example, a person with diarrhoea may want to avoid very high-fibre foods and a person with a sore mouth may find it distressing to eat acidic fruits. 

Also Read: Nutrition in cancer care

The food items which should be avoided are raw or lightly cooked fish like sushi, foods which contain raw eggs like homemade mayonnaise or soft-cooked eggs, dairy products and unpasteurized cheeses, unwashed vegetables and fruits, undercooked or raw mutton or other undercooked or raw poultry and meat. Fried foods should also be avoided as they have a lot of hydrogenated oils, which can result in inflammation.

A healthy diet followed during chemotherapy contains certain food items which are:

Healthy Fats

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have health benefits. Walnuts, grapeseed oil, olive oil and avocados are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which improve cardiovascular health and help in combating inflammation.

Plant-based Proteins

Plant-based proteins are some of the best foods to eat during chemotherapy as they offer the highest levels of vitamins and minerals. It includes food items like seeds, nuts, legumes, beans and vegetables. Choose lean options like chicken or fish if you do eat animal proteins. 

Healthy Carbs

Minimally processed foods like oats, bran and whole wheat should be chosen in the case of carbohydrates. They help in maintaining good gut bacteria as they have soluble fibre, which helps in everything from cellular repair to metabolism. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals play a big role in reducing inflammation and boosting immune function by helping our bodies’ enzymatic processes.

What to Eat/not Eat after Chemotherapy?

After chemotherapy, a person needs to find out about food restrictions by checking with the cancer care team. You can also ask a dietician to prepare a nutritious and balanced eating plan, which includes citrus fruits, dark green and yellow vegetables, fruits and a variety of colourful vegetables. High-fibre foods like whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits should be consumed and protein-rich foods should be incorporated at every snack and meal. You also need to limit the intake of alcohol, added sugar and carbohydrates. 

Cancer is a disease that tends to turn a patient’s life upside down. Apart from the physical stress, the patient also undergoes a lot of emotional stress due to the uncertainty of the outcomes. Chemotherapy might be accompanied with the various reactions and complications due to the reduced immunity in the body. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients gets holistic medical support which includes treatment and counselling in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need a second opinion, do reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with Dr. Jyoti Bhatt at the CK Birla Hospital.


Can I Eat Papaya during Chemotherapy?

During chemotherapy, you can eat ripe papaya as it’s safe for consumption and has anti-cancer properties. A chemical found in papaya seeds called Isothiocyanate has anticancer properties and prevents the formation of tumours in the prostate, breast, leukaemia, lung and colon. 

Is Rice Good during Chemo?

Carbohydrates like rice can be eaten during chemotherapy, especially brown rice as it has more fibre than the white version. The risk of developing specific types of cancers can be reduced by high-fibre diets, particularly colorectal cancer.

Is Coconut Water Good for Chemo Patients? 

Natural fruit drinks like coconut water help cancer patients with electrolytes and rehydration. It replenishes body water and regulates internal fluids as it is rich in potassium and other minerals.

Can You Eat Salt During Chemo?

It is best to limit the intake of salt during chemotherapy as it may cause problems if you have the issue of fluid retention. The sodium in salt can also increase the risk of stomach cancer, stroke and heart attack.

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