What to eat before, during and after Chemo

Eating well before, during and after chemotherapy puts you on the early recovery path
Chemotherapy is a combination of drugs to treat cancer. Chemo helps to stop or slow the growth of cancer. It may be suggested before, during and after surgery. Chemo drugs attack the cancerous cells and may cause some side-effects in a few people. As per your doctor and nutritionist’s advice, each cancer patient can follow a custom diet plan during chemotherapy. Anyways, the focus of the diet during chemotherapy is definitely on boosting your stamina so that you feel at your best.

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Even before the start of chemotherapy you can prefer diet that will help you to boost your health and stamina. In this direction, lean meats like turkey, chicken and fish will be of great help. It is always better to avoid processed meats like ham, hot dogs and sausages. Whole grains, especially oats and brown rice serve as light meals. You can have fruits and vegetables of choice. Cauliflower, chard and spinach, apple or berries can be your preferred choice. Avocado, nuts and fatty fish provide for the much needed supply of fats to the body. Taking adequate water before chemotherapy helps the body to function normally and prevents constipation.

Diet & chemotherapy

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The focus of your diet should be on managing the side-effects of Chemo, and to sustain your stamina. Baked chicken, potato and cooked vegetables are very useful as they constitute a complete and balanced diet. Eggs provide for adequate supplies of low-fat diet, helps to maintain muscle mass, heal tissues and strengthen the immune system. Taking ample amount of water helps to reduce diarrhea or vomiting, avoid constipation, fatigue, and dryness of the mouth usually seen during Chemo.


After the completion of chemotherapy, you can focus more on having balanced and healthy meals. Antioxidants in fruits, vegetables and whole grains help in early recovery, and protect cells from chemo damages. Eat more vegetables and cut down on sugar. As you may have difficulty in swallowing food, prefer only soft foods and drinks. Fresh fruit juices (avoid citrus and tomato) and fortified milkshakes will make you feel refreshed and active. A little thing like rinsing your mouth with lemon water makes you feel refreshed all day long. While eating, create some beneficial distraction like watching TV or listening to music, as it will help to divert your attention from the foods you take.

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Importantly, the diet can never be the same for all cancer patients undergoing Chemo. During and after Chemo, the patient may experience dry mouth, sores in the mouth (stomatitis) and change of taste. These problems can be overcome by taking advice from your consultant oncologist and nutritionist.

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