Nutrition During Treatment

By July 13, 2015News

One of the most important things to consider when being treated for any type of cancer is nutrition. Following a healthy and well managed diet can positively impact your recovery and success of treatment. One simple rule of thumb that many doctors suggest is to keep a steady body weight throughout your treatment as much as possible. This means neither gaining too much nor losing too much weight during your treatments.

Before Treatment:


It is important to eat a low fat (less than 25% calories), high protein diet before your surgery. Supplement this with a broad spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral with 100% RDA. Be sure to stop supplements of vitamin E, vitamin K, evening primrose, borage or fish oils 1 week before surgery as these can cause a thinning of the blood.


It is recommended to eat a low fat, high carbohydrate diet the day before chemotherapy.

During Treatment:

Avoid eating your favorite foods within 24 hours of treatment to avoid negative associations with them at a later time. It is recommended to eat low fat (less than 3 tablespoons or 40 grams fat/oil per day), high carbohydrate diet with small quantities of good quality protein such as white meat chicken, fish and eggs.

After Treatment:


After radiation it is recommended to eat food high in protein which will supply your body with a great deal of energy. Try and stray from foods high in sugar and foods containing lactose to avoid intestinal discomfort.


Small, frequent meals of easy to digest foods such as fish, chicken, rice, baked potato, banana or apple sauce. You can stimulate appetite with ginger ale.

Important reminders:

Following treatments most will not have appetite. It is important to remember that our bodies need nourishment in order to heal properly and one of the main ways you can provide this to your body is by eating right. Below find important reminders about nourishing your body during treatment:

  1. Eat small amounts of food frequently (every couple of hours), rather than big meals.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids (about 10-12 cups per day). Use water, clear soups and juices
  3. Easily digested foods are best to eat, microwaving fruits/vegetables can improve their digestibility.

It is extremely important to tell your medical team about any supplements you are taking. Below is a list of herbs and vitamins that should be discontinued prior to any surgery:

Herb Discontinue Period Prior to Surgery
Ephedra At least 24 hours before surgery
Garlic At least 7 days before surgery
Ginkgo At least 36 hours before surgery
Ginseng At least 7 days before surgery
Kava At least 24 hours before surgery
St. John’s Wort At least 5 days before surgery
Valerian Taper off several weeks before surgery. Suddenly stopping can cause withdrawal problems.