10 Foods to Eat and 10 Foods to Avoid During Chemo

There's no way around it—chemo has some nasty side effects. From nausea to diarrhea to constipation to foods just tasting weird in general, it can be hard to even think about eating. Keep reading to find out the best foods to eat, and 10 foods to avoid during chemo.


10 Foods to Avoid During Chemo Treatments

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

1. Raw eggs

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Raw Eggs

Raw eggs aren't generally recommended for consumption by anyone, but those with lowered immune systems are especially cautioned to avoid raw eggs and foods that contain raw eggs, such as raw cookie dough, homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, and Cesar salad dressing. Even cooked eggs with a runny yolk are a no go; stick to scrambled and hard boiled eggs only.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

2. Unwashed fruits/vegetables

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Unwashed Fruits and Veggies

DO eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but make sure you wash them first! Even pre-washed vegetables can still have nasty germs, bacteria, and dirt clinging onto them that can be problematic for those with lowered immune systems.

When eating out, avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables altogether; you do not know if they are clean, or if they have been cross contaminated. Do not eat at buffets and salad bars, and avoid ready-to-eat salads.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

3. Unpasteurized dairy

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Unpasteurized Dairy

Unpasteurized dairy is dairy that has not been sterilized. It may be good for baby cows, but it contains bacteria that can be harmful for humans. Fortunately, most dairy products you can buy at the grocery store are pasteurized and safe to consume. Make sure the container has the word "Pasteurized" on it.

Keep in mind, however, that many dairy products can magnify the effects of nausea and constipation experienced by many cancer patients.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

4. Moldy cheeses

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Moldy Cheese

Cheeses with fungus and mold such as blue cheese, Camembert, brie, Stilton, Gorgonzola, feta cheese, goat cheese, and queso fresco have a lot of flavor, but they also have a lot of bacteria. While safe for most adults, these cheeses should be avoided by those undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Stick to cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, cottage cheese, and cream cheese.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

5. Raw honey

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Raw Honey

Raw honey and local honey are touted for people with allergies, but they contain bacteria that can be harmful to those with lowered immune systems.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

6. Raw fish

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Raw Fish

Due to the bacteria in raw fish, you should avoid, sushi and raw oysters.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

7. Under-cooked Meat

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Under-cooked Meat

Make sure all meat you consume is cooked through, especially hamburger meat and poultry. Also make sure to cook any lunch meats, deli meats, and hot dogs you may consume.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

8. Raw nuts and raw nut butter

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Raw Nuts

Raw nuts contain—you guessed it—bacteria that can be harmful to those undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Additionally, raw nuts contains phytic acid, which can prevent the body from absorbing vital nutrients and vitamins.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

9. Greasy foods and fried foods:

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Fried and Greasy Foods

Aside from being generally unhealthy, greasy and oily foods can worsen diarrhea and other side effects of chemo.

 

Foods to Avoid During Chemo:

10. Spicy foods

Foods to Avoid During Chemo: Spicy Foods

Like fried foods, spicy foods can make diarrhea worse.

 


10 Foods to Eat During Chemo:

 

It's important to eat healthy foods during chemo, but this doesn't mean you should eat light foods. Your body uses a lot of energy when undergoing chemotherapy, so its important that you eat enough calories. Choosing hearty-yet-healthy foods is a good way to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs. When prepping your meals, try to incorporate as many nutrient-rich ingredients as possible. The following are great meals to eat during chemo:

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

1. Mashed Potatoes and baked potatoes

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are easy to prepare, easy to eat, and rich in fiber and nutrients. Add cheddar cheese, butter, sour cream, or bean chili to your potatoes to add flavor, extra protein, fats, and calories.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

2. Pasteurized Yogurt with berries and granola

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Yogurt with Berries and Granola

High in protein and rich in nutrients, yogurt is a healthy food that's great for the digestive system. Add texture, fiber, flavor, healthy calories, and extra vitamins by eating your yogurt with fruit and granola.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

3. Clean, fresh fruit with cottage cheese

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Fruit and Cottage Cheese

Fruit and cottage cheese makes a delicious and healthy snack, and its a great source of protein and vitamins.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

4. Pasta with cream sauce and veggies

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Pasta with Cream Sauce and Veggies

Pasta with cream sauce is a filling and delicious meal that provides plenty of energy. Toss in some cooked veggies to add extra nutrients.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

5. Bagels with peanut butter or cream cheese

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Bagels with Cream Cheese

Toasted bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter make a yummy breakfast that's rich in protein, fiber, and healthy calories.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

6. Chicken soup with saltine crackers

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Chicken Soup with Saltine Crackers

This classic comfort meal is perfect for days when you're feeling down. The veggies, chicken, broth, and saltine crackers give you lots of nutrients, but are still easy on the stomach.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

7. Oatmeal, or cereal and milk

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Oatmeal

Rich in fiber and easy to digest, oatmeal and cereal make great breakfasts and snacks during chemo. Add extra flavor with cinnamon or maple syrup, and incorporate more nutrients by adding fresh fruits, nuts, and peanut or almond butter.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

8. Brown rice and beans

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Rice and Beans

This basic meal is packed with protein and fiber, and is easy on the stomach. Add avocados to incorporate some healthy fats.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

9. Scrambled Eggs and Omelettes with Toast

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Filled with protein, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are a delicious meal to chomp on during chemo. Make sure your eggs are cooked all the through! Add in cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, and veggies for extra nutrients and protein, and a side of whole grain toast to add some fiber.

 

Foods to Eat During Chemo:

10. Salad greens and fresh veggies

Foods to Eat During Chemo: Salads

There's practically nothing better for your body than fresh veggies! Try eating salads with avocado and cream based dressings to give extra calories and healthy fats.

 


 

More tips:

  • We recommend eating bland foods to start with to help prevent nausea. Slowly add more flavor to your foods.
  • Even if you are having a hard time eating, don't skip meals; an empty stomach will often make your side effects worse.
  • If you are having trouble keeping food down or don't have an appetite, try eating 6-8 small meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Try using milk substitutes and lactose free milk, as they are easier on the stomach than regular milk.
  • Eat foods that you enjoy eating.
  • Don't eat "fat free" and "diet" foods, and don't worry about eating too many calories. No one likes gaining weight, but your health and recovery is the most important thing right now; your body needs the extra calories, fat, and energy to fight.
  • Another factor to keep in mind is who’s prepping your meals - restaurants and fast food could end up further compromising your immune system.

 

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