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Sometimes patients undergoing cancer treatment experience side effects that affect how they eat. It's important to manage these side effects so that patients can maintain a satisfactory level of health and nutrition. Listed below are some common diet-related side effects of cancer treatment and some general tips from Siteman's dietitians for how to cope with those side effects.

Mouth Dryness
  • Drink lots of fluid
  • Eat popsicles, chew sugarless gum or suck on ice or sugarless hard candy
  • Use gravy to moisten foods
  • Consume soft, moist foods
Diarrhea
  • Drink plenty of fluids to replace fluids lost
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas or oranges
  • Consume low-fiber food and avoid foods high in fiber
  • Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, sweets and fried foods
  • Avoid milk and milk products
Constipation
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially warm or hot fluids, to help loosen the bowels
  • Consume foods high in fiber
  • Increase your overall activity level
  • Consider trying prune juice or prunes to help naturally stimulate the bowels
  • Use a stool softener or laxative
Mouth/Throat Pain and Sores
  • Eat foods cold or at room temperature
  • Avoid acidic, spicy, salty and rough foods that may cause irritation
  • Eat soft, smooth foods: ice cream, soft fruits, pudding, oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt, custard, jello, etc.
Nausea and Vomiting
  • Antiemetic/antinausea medications can be used to prevent or improve nausea and vomiting
  • Drink liquids separate from meal times
  • Eat and drink slowly
  • Eat small frequent meals
  • Eat cold and room temperature foods to reduce food smells
  • Drink unsweetened fruit juices
  • Suck on hard candies
  • Avoid sweet, fried or fatty foods
  • Prepare meals prior to chemotherapy and freeze them
  • Stay up after meals to avoid reflux
Poor Appetite and Weight Loss
  • Make every bite count by adding butter, sauces, gravy and etc.
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals per day
  • Eat whenever you are hungry
  • Keep snacks handy for between meals
  • Drink liquids that contain calories
  • Nutritional supplement drinks may be helpful, but consult the registered dietitian prior to their use
Early Fullness
  • Eat slowly and chew food well
  • Limit liquids with meals
  • Avoid carbonated beverages like sodas
  • Avoid dried peas, beans, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. These foods may produce gas.
Fatigue
  • Use ready-to-eat, easy to prepare foods
  • Ask for help from family and friends
  • Rest before meals and snacks
  • When you do feel good, cook batches of food and freeze them for when you don't feel like cooking
Dehydration
  • Focus on drinking at least eight 8-ounce cups of fluid daily
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages
  • Drink fluids throughout the day. Drink liquids with meals and between meals
  • Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go
  • Eat foods that contain water, including fruit, soups, popsicles, juices and vegetables