Aug 17, 2022 10:00 AM

Read Time: 2 minutes

Author: Joan Elizondo, RD, CSO


Joan Elizondo, RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian at Huntsman Cancer Institute. She is passionate about helping patients reach their nutrition goals through their cancer journey. Here, she provides answers to some frequently asked questions patients getting chemotherapy have about their diets.

Chemotherapy treatment is a roller coaster. One week, you feel horrible and the next week you feel great. Your body goes through a lot of stress during treatment and food gives your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong.

Think of food as a delicious form of medicine. Your appetite will improve, and side effects will decrease after treatment is complete. Every day will get a little better. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Try to eat a healthy diet during chemotherapy. Your body uses a lot of energy, so it is important that you eat enough calories. Chemotherapy affects each person differently, but here is a good rule to follow. Your normal plate should be about 75% fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The other 25% should be lean meats or plant-based proteins. Still, you do not have to eat a perfectly balanced diet every day. Get as close to your calorie and protein goals as you can. Eat what foods sound good and what you tolerate best.

What are the best foods to eat during chemo?

Here are some examples you can try:

  • Oatmeal or cereal with fruit and milk of your choice
  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Scrambled eggs or omelets with cheese or cottage cheese
  • Pasteurized yogurt with berries and granola
  • Soup with saltine crackers
  • Pasta with sauce or cheese

Can I eat pizza during chemo?

Many people wonder if they can continue eating their favorite foods during chemo. Good news—you can! Unless something upsets your stomach, feel free to keep eating foods you enjoy.

What if I start feeling sick during chemo?

If you start feeling sick or losing weight, please contact your care team or dietitian. We need you at the top of your nutritional game—whether that means gaining weight back or getting protein and calories to help you recover between treatment cycles and after treatment is complete.

The registered dietitians at Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness and Integrative Health Center provide personalized nutrition counseling for patients with all types of cancer. For more information or to make an appointment, call 801-587-4585.

Be well and have a healthy day!

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