The importance of nutrition during your cancer treatment

If you're going through cancer treatment, you may find that you've lost your appetite, or that foods smell or taste differently. Finding the right foods to keep your strength and immune system strong may be a challenge, but it's one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

"Consider food as part of the overall cancer treatment and survivorship plan," says Terri Taylor, a registered dietitian at HonorHealth. She offers smart tips for diet and nutrition during cancer treatments.


Fluid intake is critical throughout cancer treatment, especially since dehydration can deepen fatigue. If you find that water tastes funny to you throughout treatment, try:

  • Adding a twist of lemon or lime
  • Infusing your water with melon, berries or cucumber
  • Adding a splash of 100% fruit juice
  • Substituting low-sugar sports drinks, unsweetened herbal teas and frozen fruit bars for water

Fruits and vegetables

Try to eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables since they have natural compounds that support your body and work with cancer treatment. Making smoothies is an effortless way to ensure you're getting the nutrition from these items, or you can also try adding vegetables to soups. Try the following:

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and bok choy
  • Carotenoids: Dark yellow squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, tomatoes and bell peppers
  • Leafy greens: Spinach, chard, kale, collard greens and dark leaf lettuce
  • Fruits: Berries, grapes, cherries, melons, mango, oranges, peaches and apples
Understand the importance of nutrition during your cancer treatment from experts at HonorHealth

Other foods to try

  • Healthy fats and nuts: Avocado, olives, avocado oil, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, pecans
  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa content
  • Whole grains and legumes: Oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, farro, quinoa, lentils and dried beans (black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans)
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies

"Foods like turkey, chicken, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy can help you maintain your body and muscle mass," says Terri.


Certain spices can help with reducing nausea or inflammation, including:

  • Reduces inflammation
    • Turmeric
    • Cinnamon
    • Garlic
    • Black pepper
    • Cardamom
    • Rosemary
  • Reduces nausea
    • Ginger

Limit or avoid

  • Alcohol: Adds excess calories, stresses the liver, contributes to inflammation and may increase gut permeability (leaky gut)
  • Sugary beverages: High-fructose corn syrup or sugar-sweetened beverages, sodas, fruit juices or drinks
  • Refined/processed carbohydrates: White bread, white pasta, white rice, white flour and white sugar
  • Desserts: Cookies, candy, cake, pastries, ice cream and frozen desserts
  • Red and processed meats: Hot dogs, cold cuts and sausages
  • Solid fats: Butter, margarine, shortening and lard
  • Fried foods: French fries, breaded fried foods, fast food

HonorHealth offers nutritional counseling for cancer patients. To make an appointment with a board-certified cancer dietitian, call 480-882-4703.

Care that's made for you

At HonorHealth, we provide a level of cancer care, groundbreaking therapies and support that defies the expected. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, meet with an HonorHealth provider – within 48 hours if you’d like – by calling 855-485-4673. Please note that you’ll need a referral from your primary care physician, specialist or diagnostic imaging center. 

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