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Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Chemotherapy Diet Resources: Diets That You May Follow During Chemotherapy Treatments



There is no special "anti-cancer" diet.  The diet is typically very liberal during chemotherapy treatments.  Some special diets are used to maximize tolerance and avoid further chemotherapy complications related to the diet.  The diets may include:

Clear liquids 

Includes fruit juice, gelatin, popsicles, broth, fruit ice, coffee, and tea.  This diet is usually for after surgery awaiting digestion to return, as well as for bowel rest with vomiting and diarrhea.

Full liquids

This diet includes milk, yogurt without fruit pieces, ice cream, sherbet, milkshakes, strained cream soups, hot cereal, commercial supplements custard and pudding.  This diet is intended as a progression from clear liquids or for individuals who have difficulty  swallowing solid foods due to a narrowed esophagus or mouth or throat pain.

Soft/Low residue diets

A soft diet avoids raw fruits and vegetables, and foods that have skins, nuts, seeds, etc.  A soft diet may be indicated for patients at moderate risk for a bowel obstruction, which may be a result of pain or anti-nausea medications causing extreme constipation.  A low residue diet on the other hand is very restrictive, and omits all fruit and vegetables except fruit juice and white potatoes.  It also avoids most grains and any food that might leave a residue in the gut.  This diet is meant only for patients whose bowel may be partially obstructed or are at very high risk for an obstruction.
 
Low Lactose

This diet avoids products that contain milk such as pudding, custard, ice cream, sherbet, cream sauces, cream soups, milkshakes.  Products that are acceptable include those that are fermented such as cheddar cheese, acidophilus milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, low lactose milk (i.e. Lactaid), or those that are milk/lactose free.  This diet is appropriate for patients who are lactose intolerant or experience gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea after eating products that contain lactose.  It also may be necessary to follow a low lactose diet if these types of symptoms develop related to cancer treatments.  Ask your dietitian if this diet is right for you.
  
Supplementing your diet before, during, or after chemotherapy

In order to maintain your weight before, during, or after treatments you may need to eat foods or beverages that are high in calories.  It may be necessary to add calorie boosters to your foods or beverages to avoid or minimize weight loss. 
                
Due to changes in eating and nutritional needs related to cancer and chemotherapy treatments you may need to boost protein in your diet to maximize energy, strength, immune function, and skin integrity.  Refer to the lists below for tips on how you can increase calories or protein in your diet.

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.