Medical Focus: How Chemotherapy Can Change Your Diet

Medical Focus

JOPLIN, Mo. — Chemotherapy can be a lifesaving treatment for many cancer patients, but it doesn’t come without side effects.

And that can even affect when and what you eat.

“I told my husband Brandon the next day, ‘Hey, I think I have breast cancer.’ And he was like, ‘No you don’t.’ But I just knew so it was a surprise but it was not,” said Rachele Davis, Cancer Survivor.

That diagnosis kicked of a course of treatment including chemotherapy, which meant Rachele Davis couldn’t always eat what she wanted.

“There were certain foods, all of a sudden I couldn’t eat them any more because they just made me sick to even think about them,” said Davis.

Nausea and vomiting are common problems for patients undergoing chemotherapy, so tailoring your diet can make a big difference.

“But typically a lighter meal is does help you avoid nausea just because the longer that food sits on your stomach, the more likely you’re going to be nauseous.” said Amalee Cummings, Dietitian.

Freeman Dietitian Amalee Cummings encourages patients to focus on fluids and healthy foods.

Amalee Cummings, Dietitian: “Like fruits and vegetables, those sort of that have more of the potassium and things that you might have lost while you were vomiting.”

But, she adds, the experience is unique – and changes to your diet will depend on how your body reacts.

“It’s sometimes if you’re feeling nauseous, sometimes those warm beverages are better and some people find those to be more nauseating so it’s really just kind of depends on the patient, not necessarily that one’s better than the other,” said Cummings.

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