Managing normal eating habits and diets can be difficult while you're undergoing chemotherapy. Some common symptoms that may affect your diet during this time are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, changes in taste, dry mouth, mouth pain or sores, and low appetite. However, it is important to eat sufficient calories to keep your body strong enough to handle the strain of chemo. According to the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and the Chemocare website, there are also some foods you should probably avoid: spicy foods; greasy, fried foods; foods with strong smells; and very sweet, sugary foods. These suggestions may not work for everyone. Consult your doctor if you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment and have questions about which foods are right for you.
Claire Saxton, who worked as an oncology dietitian with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, recommends eating small, easily tolerated meals often. These are some high-calorie foods that can be added to fruit, casseroles, and snacks:
- protein powder (added to milk or smoothies, especially if chewing solid foods is a problem) - butter (added to bread, vegetables, and potatoes) - peanut butter (added to fruit; eaten on a sandwich) - honey and jam - cheese, cream cheese - heavy cream (added to sauces) - mayonnaise (added to cold salads and sandwiches) - whipped cream
- Soft fruits eaten alone or added to shakes or yogurt, e.g., bananas, peaches, watermelon, honeydew melons, and pears (Some doctors recommend avoiding citrus, as the acid in these fruits can be too strong.) - Cottage cheese - Mashed potatoes - Vegetable gratin (made from potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, or any vegetable baked with cream sauce) - Scrambled eggs - Macaroni and cheese - Soft lasagna - Legumes (white bean soups, black-eyed pea salads, green peas added to pasta)
- Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or almond butter if you prefer) - Avocado eaten with toast or chips - Hard-boiled egg - Full-fat milk - Full-fat yogurt (with or without fruit) - Small cup of soup (with or without heavy cream added) - Small bowl of oatmeal with nuts, maple syrup, and butter (optional)