Foods to eat while on chemotherapy

Updated March 23, 2017

Chemotherapy treatment takes a toll on the body and often causes the chemotherapy patient to feel weak and tired. For this reason, it is vital that the patient speaks with her doctor regarding the best foods to eat while on chemotherapy.

Diet Strategy

Two of the most common side effects of chemotherapy treatment are nausea and loss of appetite. However, it is vital that the patient consumes the appropriate amount of calories every day, as determined by their physician. To make this easier, the chemotherapy patient should try eat several small meals throughout the day (every 1 or 2 hours), rather than trying to eat three large meals.


Protein is vital to the chemotherapy diet, and should be added to meals whenever possible. Good sources of protein include lean meats, beans, eggs, nuts and legumes. The patient can also sneak additional protein sources into the diet by incorporating them into other meals. For example, the patient can add protein powder to a glass of water and peanut butter to morning toast.


Foods rich in carbohydrates provide the body with much-needed energy during chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy patient should eat plenty of whole grain breads, cereals, pasta and rice.


Since the body's immune system is weakened during chemotherapy treatment, it is important to add foods high in antioxidants to the chemotherapy diet. Adding at least five servings of colourful fruits and vegetables to the diet will help boost the immune system.


The chemotherapy patient should not be afraid to eat foods that are high in calories, as these foods will keep the patient from losing too much weight and becoming weak. This is important because the patient will need strength during chemotherapy treatment.

Preparation Tips

Not only do chemotherapy patients experience a decline in appetite, but also a decline in the simple desire to eat. These patients often experience sores in the mouth, loss of taste buds and nausea. To overcome these obstacles, the patient should focus on foods that are soft to chew and served at room temperature or warmer. Avoid foods that may trigger nausea, such as foods with particularly strong odours. Since each chemotherapy patient will differ, the food preparation tips will change based on his or her specific condition.

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