Nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment and recovery. Good nutrition allows a patient’s body to tolerate cancer therapy better and with fewer side effects.
Suggestions to Help Manage Common Side Effects
Nausea and vomiting
- Avoid or limit foods with strong odors. Eat foods cold or at room temperature.
- Eat dry, bland foods such as crackers or toast often. Limit fried or spicy foods.
- Eat small, frequent meals slowly. Relax after meals to allow foods to digest.
- Avoid favorite foods when feeling nauseated. Eat them when you feel well.
- After eating, loosen clothes, get fresh air, and don’t lie down.
- Ask your health care provider for medication(s) to help control nausea and vomiting.
- Try cleaning your mouth before eating.
- Experiment with different foods and flavors. Use more seasonings, herbs, and spices. Try adding onion, garlic, and other flavors to vegetables.
- If sweet foods do not taste good, try sour, bitter, or tart flavorings. Try adding lemon, lime, and orange to meals.
- Use sugar-free lemon drops, gum, or mints to counteract metallic or bitter tastes.
- Try eating with plastic utensils to help reduce metallic tastes.
Sore mouth or throat
- Drink plenty of liquids. Drink through a straw to bypass an irritated mouth.
- Choose soft moist foods. Add extra gravies, cream sauces, or butter to meals. Cook food until soft and tender.
- Use cold foods to soothe a sore mouth or throat
- Avoid irritating foods such as citrus fruits and juices, spicy or salty foods, and rough, coarse, or dry foods.
- Rinse your mouth frequently to remove food and bacteria and promote healing. Ask your dentist about cleaning products for teeth and gums.
- Prepare and freeze meals ahead of time.
- Let friends or family members cook for you.
- Keep easily accessible snack foods handy.
- Use paper products or minimal dishes to reduce clean-up time.
- Eat plenty of high fiber foods. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Gradually add fiber into your diet over eight weeks to a final goal of 25-30 grams fiber a day.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Prune juice may be beneficial.
- Take walks and exercise regularly.
- Ask your health care provider before adding any stool softeners or laxatives.
- Avoid excessive amounts of fiber or a rapid increase in fiber intake.
- Try small frequent meals. Try adding bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, pasta, and potatoes to thicken stool. Limit gas-forming foods such as greasy, fried, or spicy items.
- Replace fluid loss with liquids between meals.
- Try to eat four to six small meals per day. Just looking at a large meal can decrease appetite. Keep snacks available in your car, purse, or backpack.
- Drink liquids between meals if you get full fast. Take breaks during meals.
- If you have a good appetite, take advantage of it and eat up; you may not have an appetite later on. Appetite is often best in the morning, so eat a larger breakfast.
- Focus on adding protein to your diet: cheese, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, meats, and beans.
- Add high-calorie items to foods: powdered milk, honey, avocados, olive oil, margarine, butter, and peanut butter.
- Use a high-protein supplement such as Carnation Instant Breakfast, Boost, or Ensure.
- Be creative. Try making milkshakes or smoothies packed with protein and calories.
For more information, or for specific nutrition-related questions, call the Wellness-Survivorship Center at 801-585-4585.