Modified Diets

Modified Diets During Cancer Treatment

People going through chemotherapy may experience side effects from treatment. A special diet may be recommended to you if this happens. These special diets can help improve symptoms. A registered dietitian working with your medical team can help determine the best diet and meal plan for you.

Here is a summary of some of the modified diets that may be recommended during cancer treatment.

Clear Liquid

This diet includes only clear liquids. It may be recommended if you have recently had surgery, or if you have been having a lot of vomiting or diarrhea.

Foods included on a Clear Liquid Diet:

  • Fruit Juice
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles
  • Broth
  • Coffee and tea

Full Liquid

This diet includes liquids and semi-liquids. It may be recommended if you were recently on a clear liquid diet, but are ready to include more foods in your diet. It may also be recommended for people who have difficulty swallowing solid foods.

Foods included on a Full Liquid Diet:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt without fruit pieces
  • Ice cream and sherbet
  • Milkshakes
  • Strained cream soups
  • Hot cereal
  • Oral nutrition supplements such as Ensure or Boost or Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • Custard and pudding
  • All foods allowed on a clear liquid diet

Soft/Low Fiber

A soft, low fiber diet avoids raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and foods that have skins and seeds. This diet may be recommended for patients who are at risk for a bowel obstruction (blockage).

Low Lactose

A low lactose diet avoids foods that contain lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar. This diet may be recommended to patients who are lactose intolerant. It also may be necessary to follow a low lactose diet if gas, bloating, or diarrhea develop during cancer treatment.

High Calorie, High Protein

In order to maintain your weight throughout treatments, you may need to eat foods or beverages that are high in calories and protein. It may be necessary to add calorie boosters to your foods or beverages or include oral nutrition supplements. This can help you avoid or minimize weight loss and maximize energy and strength.


A carbohydrate-controlled diet may be used for patients who experience high blood sugars. This diet focuses on controlling servings of carbohydrate foods. Examples of carbohydrate foods include grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, beans, and dairy products. Meals and snacks should be balanced, including protein, nutritious fats, and carbohydrates.

Key Points:

  • A special diet may be recommended if you are having symptoms that affect your ability to eat.
  • Ask a dietitian or your nurse or doctor whether you should be following a special diet during treatment.

Due to variation in specific illness and treatment plans, eating practices of individuals diagnosed with cancer should be assessed throughout the continuum of care. Request an appointment with a registered dietitian at your treatment facility for a comprehensive nutrition assessment and tailored nutrition therapy plan to reflect your personal treatment goals.

If you are a patient at Taussig Cancer Institute at Cleveland Clinic, you can call (216) 444-6833 to schedule an appointment with the dietitian.

If you are a patient at Radiation Oncology at Cleveland Clinic, you can call (216) 444-5571 to schedule an appointment with a dietitian.

If you are not a Cleveland Clinic patient, you can call 216.444.3046 to schedule an appointment with a Cleveland Clinic dietitian.

If you are interested in corresponding with a Cleveland Clinic dietitian, but are unable to have an in-person appointment, we have two options for online, distance nutrition consultation services.

  • To schedule a MyConsult with a Cleveland Clinic dietitian, please to go
  • To schedule a virtual nutrition consultation via the online platform ExpressCare Online, please call 216.444.3046.

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