Food For Thought

What You Eat (or Don't Eat) During Treatment Can Make a Big Difference

Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of your cancer journey. What you eat can impact how you feel and even alleviate certain side effects. By eating well during treatment, you'll not only feel better but also:

  • Build energy and strength
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Lower the risk of infection
  • Potentially reduce treatment recovery time

But you need to be prepared for possible changes in appetite during treatment. Foods you loved before may not taste the same.

Nausea may make eating difficult, so it's important to remember no matter the side effects, eating as well as you can is an essential part of your fight against cancer. 

We've collected some handy articles, resources and a selection of recipes from the American Cancer Society's What to Eat During Cancer Treatment cookbook, as well as information from CURE Magazine.

Helpful Tips From the American Cancer Society

Your appetite may come and go during treatment, so it’s important to remember to eat when you feel hungry. It may be easier to break up your day into five or six snacks, rather than three large meals. Here are some helpful tips for shopping and cooking for yourself or someone you may know who is undergoing cancer treatment:

  • Now is not the time to live by the rules of what to eat when. It's okay to have your favorite food at any time of the day. If you want to have a sandwich for breakfast, go ahead. It's important to eat when you're the hungriest.
  • Shop for a variety of high-protein foods to snack on throughout the day.
  • Frozen fruit like honeydew, cantaloupe, grapes, and watermelon can be great snacks and could help sooth the pain from mouth sores. Try to avoid more acidic fruits like strawberries, oranges and grapefruit.
  • Mashed potatoes are easy and delicious with cheese or butter.

Delicious, Nutritious Recipes 

Below are a few recipes from the cookbook What to Eat During Cancer Treatment. These recipes may reduce symptoms and side effects, such as nausea or dry mouth: 

The cookbook may be ordered through the American Cancer Society website. At checkout, add this code for a 20 percent discount: CA777F13.

This material is furnished for informational purposes and is for your personal use only. It is not intended as a substitute for the expertise, judgment and specific advice of your doctor. Based on your condition and treatment plan, you may have different dietary needs. Please talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet plan.


Reproduced, with permission, from Jeanne Besser et al., What to Eat During Cancer Treatment (Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2009). ©2009 by the American Cancer Society.

American Cancer Society. Nutrition for the Person With Cancer During Treatment. Adapated excerpt accessed 2018, May 8 from