Published on March 01, 2016

You can eat well with cancer

Eating healthy foods is important for cancer patients.

Unfortunately, both the disease and the drugs used to treat it can make it difficult to eat.

“The drugs can affect your taste buds,” says Ed Kratowicz, RD, MPH, a dietitian with Mercy LIFE. Foods you once liked might seem flavorless now. Or healthy foods might not taste as good to you as your old favorites, Kratowicz says.

Other problems can get in the way too. You might not have much of an appetite while you’re in treatment. Or it might be hard to chew or swallow foods. Nausea from the drugs is a common problem. And it’s easy to become dehydrated.

So what can you do? Kratowicz and other experts offer these tips:

  • Tell your doctor what’s going on. He or she may be able to give you medicine or refer you to a dietitian.
  • If possible, take a walk before meals to work up an appetite.
  • To get more calories, eat every few hours. Eating six small meals instead of three large ones may help with nausea too.
  • For trouble swallowing, try blended foods like smoothies and soups. Or chop food into small pieces that are easier to chew.
  • For nausea, try adding ginger, lemon or peppermint to your food. Or drink ginger tea or ginger ale.
  • Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day.