What Are the Best Foods to Eat While Undergoing Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can take a toll on your sense of taste.

Eating During Chemo

Chemotherapy can take a toll on your sense of taste. It may seem as if the foods you are eating are too salty, too sweet, or have no taste at all. These changes are usually temporary and go away with time.

In the meantime, you can follow these 15 nutrition tips for chemotherapy to meet your body's nutrient requirements.

If the food seems too bland or lacks flavor, add seasonings and marinades to improve the taste.

Add Sauces and Seasonings

If the food seems too bland or lacks flavor, add seasonings and marinades to improve the taste. Some things you can add to perk up the food's flavor are mustard, ketchup, barbeque sauce, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce.

You can also add bacon bits, ham strips, nuts, or cheddar cheese to improve the taste of your food.

You shouldn't have to eat a bland breakfast when getting ready for your chemo treatment for the day.

Sweeten Up Your Breakfast

You shouldn't have to eat a bland breakfast when getting ready for your chemo treatment for the day. Put some maple syrup, cinnamon, raisins, dates, or brown sugar on toast for a healthy and sweet breakfast.

You can also eat snack chips on your way to the chemo center.

During chemotherapy, you must minimize your risk of infection.

Refrigerate Your Food

During chemotherapy, you must minimize your risk of infection. If there are any leftovers, put them in the refrigerator as soon as you're done eating.

It is always good practice to wash your fruits and vegetables.

Wash Your Produce

It is always good practice to wash your fruits and vegetables. However, when going through chemotherapy, you should not eat raw fruits and vegetables without scrubbing them with water and a clean brush.

Soak berries and similar fruits that cannot be scrubbed. Rinse afterward.

When going for chemotherapy, keep a snack with you.

Take a Snack Along

When going for chemotherapy, keep a snack with you. Some good snacks include liquid yogurts, crackers, and bananas. Don't eat acidic snacks as they can irritate your digestive tract.

You should not eat certain foods if you have neutropenia, which means the white blood cells called neutrophils are lower than normal in your body.

Avoid These Foods

You should not eat certain foods if you have neutropenia, which means the white blood cells called neutrophils are lower than normal in your body.

These include raw milk, undercooked or raw seafood and poultry, eggs, deli meats, undercooked hot dogs, and unwashed fresh produce.

Many medicines come with a grapefruit warning.

No Grapefruit

Many medicines come with a grapefruit warning. The fruit can interact with common drugs, even those given for cancer. Don't drink grapefruit juice or eat the fruit raw.

Green tea is typically safe for people getting chemotherapy.

Drink Green Tea

Green tea is typically safe for people getting chemotherapy. However, if you are taking bortezomib (Velcade), you should not drink green tea since it may reduce the drug's effectiveness.

Smelly foods can trigger your nausea or make it worse.

Avoid Smelly Foods

Smelly foods can trigger your nausea or make it worse. Ask friends or family for help so that you do not have to be in the kitchen when food is being prepared.

You can also go for a short walk before meals to get fresh air.

Sparkling water gets mixed responses from people. But it could help soothe your stomach if you're undergoing chemotherapy.

Give Sparkling Water a Go

Sparkling water gets mixed responses from people. But it could help soothe your stomach if you're undergoing chemotherapy. If you're not a fan of sparkling water, try iced tea or ginger ale.

If chemotherapy is making you constipated, include fiber in your diet.

Eat Fiber to Ease Constipation

If chemotherapy is making you constipated, include fiber in your diet. You can ask your doctor about insoluble and soluble fiber sources suitable for your particular condition.

Besides fresh produce, you should also wash the countertops, knives, cutting boards, and utensils used in cooking.

Wash Everything

Besides fresh produce, you should also wash the countertops, knives, cutting boards, and utensils used in cooking. This is most important when you are making turkey, fish, chicken, or raw meat.

Mouth sores are common during chemotherapy.

Foods for Mouth Sores

Mouth sores are common during chemotherapy. Avoid eating your food too hot or too cold. Don't eat sharp foods, like chips and crackers. Instead, eat bland and moist foods, such as custards, pudding, and oatmeal.

If mouth sores are making it impossible for you to eat, talk to your doctor right away.

Finding foods that taste good during chemo can be tricky since most people complain about having a metallic taste.

Use Wooden Utensils

Finding foods that taste good during chemo can be tricky since most people complain about having a metallic taste. Try eating with wooden or plastic spoons to minimize this flavor.

It is common for people to have a poor diet during chemotherapy.

Experiment With Food

It's common for people to have a poor diet during chemotherapy. However, don't keep yourself from eating during chemo, especially if the foods are safe and good for your health.

Experiment with chemo foods by adding new flavors and spices. Limiting yourself to the same recipes will take the joy out of food. Instead, try new ingredients and recipes. If you're uncertain, talk to your doctor.

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REFERENCES:

  • Mayo Clinic: "Eating during cancer treatment: Tips to make food tastier."
  • Cancer Gov: "Eating Hints: Before, during, and after Cancer Treatment."
  • Stanford HEALTH CARE: "Nutrition Services for Cancer Patients."
  • Breast Cancer: "Expert Tips on Eating Well During Chemotherapy."
  • FDA: "Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don't Mix."
  • European Journal of Gastroenterology Hepatology: "Effects of carbonated water on functional dyspepsia and constipation."
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