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Diet and Nutrition Tips to Help Survive Chemotherapy

Following is part 3 of our diet and nutrition tips series. This article talks about ways to help survive chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy side effects

Chemotherapy side effects are different for everyone, so be sure to communicate with your treatment team about what you're experiencing. Here are some tips that are helpful for most people in treatment.

Light meal

Eat before chemo – a light meal not too heavy. Take snacks with you when you go for treatment. Recommend a combination of some carbs and protein mix (You might need to bring a few options to find what will taste well).


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This is so important. Some options include water or unsweetened tea. If you're not feeling like eating much, then 100% juice or a nutrition supplement drink are also good options.

After treatment

Eat something not too long after you finish treatment. It is a good idea to combine a good source of protein and healthy carbs.

Healing & recovering

Prepare your body for healing and recovery for the next treatment. As much as possible, you need to provide your body with a regular source of calories and protein in order to be as well-nourished as possible for the next treatment.

Weight loss or gain

Monitor your weight loss or gain. If you notice that you are losing weight, be sure to bring it to your treatment team's attention. Unintended weight loss and malnutrition are an issue that is best addressed early. You can ask for a referral to your treatment center dietitian if you're not able to keep your weight stable.

Season of treatment

It's helpful to keep a good attitude about food choices. Of course, focusing on the most nourishing foods is ideal, but sometimes the side effects of treatment make that very difficult. In this "season of treatment", allow yourself the freedom to eat whatever sounds good, that you can keep down and get you through the day. Then worry about the next day and focus on foods that can help you refuel. Take it one day at a time!

Tips for other common side effects


  • Rest when fatigue is the worst
  • Be active when you have energy
  • Have snacks & meals ready to go choose nutrient-dense foods


  • Eat small meals throughout the day
  • Try bland foods like bananas, dry toast, lightly salted crackers, soups, and broths
  • Avoid spicy, greasy, and acidic foods

Taste and smell changes

  • Try tart flavors like lemon wedges and vinegar
  • Marinate foods in juices or acidic dressings cover drinks with a lid and straw
  • Eat cold or room temperature foods; heated foods smell stronger

Mouth sores

  • Get plenty of calories and protein to heal
  • Use a straw to bypass sore spots
  • Avoid crunchy and rough foods
  • Eat soft, bland foods

For more nutrition tips for treatment side effects, check out www.cancerdietitian.com/wordpress/tips.

Share with us in the comments below: What foods or snacks have you found to be helpful after chemotherapy treatment?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedBreastCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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