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Nutrition During and After Cancer Treatment

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN

Published: February 04, 2021

Reviewed: October 21, 2021

Woman smiling - Nutrition Before and After Cancer Treatment

Food and nutrition are critical parts of successful cancer treatment. Nutrients support the growth of healthy cells in your body; they also go a long way toward helping you maintain energy and strength.

A personalized nutrition plan based on an individual's likes, dislikes, lifestyle, symptoms and concerns is an integral part of cancer treatment. A registered dietitian nutritionist trained in oncology nutrition is a key part of the medical team that works with people with cancer.

An oncology RDN will:

  • Help find the best food choices and ways to eat based on how patients feel and what they like. For example, small, frequent snacks may be easier to tolerate than a few larger meals. Food choices should be easy to chew, swallow, digest and absorb, even if high in fat.
  • Help determine if supplements and nutrient-rich beverages and foods should be prescribed to help patients get the nutrition they need.
  • Help answer questions about foods, supplements, nutrients and diet. There are an infinite number of sources of information about diet and cancer. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help patients process the information they've found and discuss options that may be most beneficial.

Locate a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area »

Nutrition after Cancer Treatment

Once cancer treatment is complete, maintaining a nutritious eating routine can help the body heal and offer protection for the future. Center your plate to focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Studies have also found that people who limit added sugars, red meat and alcohol have lower risks of certain types of cancer.

This type of eating routine also is good for heart health and can help reduce risk of other chronic diseases. 

For more information on nutrition during and after cancer treatment, visit the following sites:

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