General health & nutrition when
undergoing cancer treatment

Most of us try to lead a healthy lifestyle, doing our best to lead active lives and care for what we eat. Nutrition has become a part of our daily routines. We know what adds nutritional value to our lives and what we should avoid. What we read and hear about nutrition already highlights the importance of portion sizes, the types of food we should eat (like fruits, vegetables, drinking plenty of water etc.), reducing the amount of fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt we consume and monitoring our body weight. However, this becomes a little more difficult when we are diagnosed with cancer and go through various types of treatment due to side effects and overall physical- and mental health.

Pointing out the obvious, following a healthy- well-balanced diet is crucial if you are a Cancer patient because both the illness and the treatments can change how you eat and think about food. They can also affect how your body tolerates certain foods and uses nutrients.

When you start your Cancer treatment, your medical team would usually recommend that you adjust your diet to build up your strength and help you navigate the sometimes-harsh effects that various treatments might have. This might include a higher-than-normal protein intake and/ or more calories than usual to help you gain weight.

How to take care of your body?

  1. Ensure you get essential nutrients: Like protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
  2. Hydration: Drink enough water/ fluids.
  3. Exercise/ being active: Move around the house, and walk short distances daily.
  4. Communicating with your Doctor/ medical team about your weight.

Side effects that may contribute to malnutrition


Here are some ideas to help you feel less nauseous:

  • If you feel sensitive to specific tastes and/ or smells, try eating bland, softer, and easier-to-digest food.
  • Try eating “Dry” snacks like toast, oatmeal snacks, crackers, rice cakes and bread sticks.
  • Try eating/ drinking your food/ liquids at room temperature.
  • Try eating smaller portions multiple times throughout the day.
  • Avoid skipping meals/ snacks throughout the day as an empty stomach might make you feel nauseous.
  • Keep a diary of when you feel the worst, and try and avoid snacks during those times.
  • Try fruit juice, ice cubes and/ or frozen fruit popsicles.

Loss of appetite:

Some ideas to avoid loss of appetite:

  • Try eating foods containing higher protein and calories, like beans, chicken, fish, and eggs.
  • Try eating high-protein meals when your appetite feels strongest throughout the day.
  • Try drinking protein shakes, milkshakes, smoothies, or soup instead of eating meals when you don’t feel hungry.
  • Experiment with new recipes depending on your cravings.
  • Try and eat your favourite foods/ snacks when you feel the best.
  • Be honest and have an open dialogue with your doctor/ medical team about your loss of appetite and ask for help/ suggestions.


Chocolate-Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Vegetables and fruit are important sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. When planning your meals, aim to make at least half of your plate vegetables and fruit. It is also important to aim for colour and variety, as different coloured fruit and vegetables provide different nutrients and health benefits. 

Whole and intact grains have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin levels compared to refined grains. Aim to make at least a quarter of your plate whole grains which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. 

Protein is an essential nutrient that is important for building and repairing tissue, as well as maintaining strong muscles and a healthy immune system. Fish, poultry, beans, and nuts are excellent sources of protein that are healthy and versatile and should fill a quarter of your plate. 

Cranberry Coconut Popsicle

The advantages of exercise are numerous and varied, including a stronger heart, increased bone density and muscle mass, improved balance, sharper mental acuity, elevated mood, and reduced stress levels. A brisk 30-minute walk, five times a week, is all that is needed to begin experiencing the positive effects of exercise. If this still seems overwhelming, start by engaging in some physical activity each day, such as garden work, housework, or walking the dog, and gradually increase your activity level. With time and persistence, exercise will soon become a natural and daily habit. 

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. 


eatingwell.com. (2022, September 19). Retrieved from EatingWell is part of the Dotdash Meredith publishing family:

cancer.gov. (2022, December 9). Retrieved from National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health:

cancer.org. (2022, March 16). Retrieved from American Cancer Society:

cancer.net. (2022, June). Retrieved from American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO):

aicr.org. (2020, May 4). Retrieved from American Institute for Cancer Research:

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