Advice From Phys Comm for Resp Med

To find out more information on nutrition, please visit our Cancer Project website at

You’ll find lots of good information on cancer and diet. Diet’s effect on multiple myeloma (for example) has not been thoroughly studied. But, research suggests that the effect of good nutrition is to strengthen the immune cells that can attack and destroy cancer cells, perhaps to weaken cancer cells directly.

Unfortunately, many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy find it hard to eat anything at all. That doesn’t mean, however, they shouldn’t be eating at all and what they eat can help speed their recovery. Below you will find information on what do eat during chemotherapy:

Meeting the Special Needs of the Cancer Patient with a Vegan Diet

Coping with taste changes:

a.. For those with an increased sense of strong or bitter tastes, the mild flavor of some soy products can be a welcome change.

b.. For those with a metallic taste in their mouth, use plastic dishware and silverware.

c.. Peanut butter, tofu and beans are bland foods that may be appealing.

d.. If taste blindness is a problem, using marinades and seasonings for tofu and tempeh can enhance the flavor.

Nutrient-Dense Snacks:

a.. Dry beans and peas, nuts, peanut butter, and seeds are examples of foods commonly eaten by non-vegetarians, but perhaps not very often or in small quantities. These can be maximized to supply a greater percentage of calorie and protein requirements.

b.. Shakes can be made with soy milk, tofu, and non-dairy frozen desserts and can be flavored with fruit, chocolate syrup, or extracts to make a tasty, calorie-rich treat.

c.. Many varieties of trail mixes are readily available and great for high-energy snacking.

Quick and Easy High Calorie Vegan Snacks:

Bean Tacos/Burritos Fruit Shakes Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts Soy Yogurt, Custards, and Puddings Peanut Butter on Crackers or Fruit Bean and Chunky Vegetable Soups Dried Fruit, Nuts and Seeds Bagels


often the side-effect of medications; avoid strong odors; eat dry foods such as toast, crackers, pretzels or other dry foods before getting up and up to every 2 hours; avoid greasy, spicy, super sweet or fried foods; avoid favorite foods at bedtime; choose cold or room temperature foods

Diarrhea: increase intake of fiber with pectin Constipation: increase intake of fluids & fiber, including hot beverages & prune juice

What About Micronutrients?

A multivitamin/mineral supplement is often recommended for patients undergoing cancer treatment, as you may not be able to eat a variety of foods in sufficient amounts to meet your needs, whether following a vegetarian diet or not.

If the patient does seem to have an appetite, I would encourage him to eat the fruits and vegetables as recommended but I would avoid chicken and fish.

Even free range chicken and cold water fish contain fat and cholesterol (fat may stimulate cancer growth) and neither contain the fiber and antioxidants that can boost immune function.

For more information on what diet is best for cancer prevention and for boosting the immune system, please read our fact sheet on Food Choices for Health at

Brie Turner-McGrievy, MS, RD Staff Dietitian Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 5100 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 400 Washington, D.C. 20016 202.686.2210, ext. 310 202.686.2155 (fax)

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