Why Good Nutrition is Crucial During Cancer Treatment

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can disrupt your life in more ways than you can imagine. Not only can it cause changes in how you feel, but it can also disrupt your normal eating patterns. When you’re healthy, eating enough nutritious food to receive the proper nourishment is typically not a problem. Getting enough nutrition for cancer patients can be tough because a loss of appetite is a common side effect of treatment, and many find their body cannot tolerate certain foods that they once could. However, the HEADstrong Foundation is sharing why good nutrition is crucial during cancer treatment.

Once diagnosed, changes in how your body responds to food can affect certain treatment outcomes, so proper nutrition for cancer patients is extremely important. During cancer treatment, you may have side effects, including nausea, making it hard to follow standard nutritional guidelines. Consuming a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats while limiting processed foods like fats, sugar, and alcohol is recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You may have to change your diet to meet your nutritional goals.

Eating well to achieve your cancer nutrition goals can help you to:

  • Feel better
  • Maintain your strength and energy
  • Recover faster after treatment
  • Maintain a healthy body weight and nutrient levels
  • Lower your risk of an infection
  • Help you to better tolerant side effects

Your physician can help you put together a diet that will get you the recommended nutrients you need during chemotherapy. This high-calorie diet may be very different from what you’re used to eating and will most likely include a lot of protein. This is common, especially if you’ve been losing weight or experiencing weakness. While there is no “one size fits all” diet for cancer patients, eating a well-balanced diet with essential nutrients will help you maintain your health while you’re fighting this disease.


Incorporating foods rich in protein like lean meats, fish, dairy, nuts, and eggs can help repair body tissue, promote healthy muscle growth, and help to boost your immune system. Your physician may suggest a diet rich in protein following chemotherapy because additional protein can help heal tissues and prevent infections.

Fats and Carbs

Adding healthy fats and carbohydrates can bulk up your calorie intake if you’re in a deficit. Foods like fruits, vegetables, bread, and pasta can give you a carb boost, while healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, meat, and dairy products can help to bulk up your fat intake.

Vitamins and Minerals

A normal diet sufficiently provides the daily recommended vitamins and minerals a person needs. Eating a normal diet when undergoing chemotherapy can prove to be difficult, so your doctor may suggest additional supplementation with a vitamin or mineral supplement to help you hit your nutritional goals.


Water is essential for every living being. It protects organs and tissues, as well as flushes out toxins and helps carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells. It’s not uncommon to feel dehydrated due to different forms of excretion when undergoing chemotherapy, so it’s vital to monitor your water intake and keep yourself hydrated.    

At The HEADstrong Foundation, one of our goals is to provide cancer support to families struggling with the physical, emotional, mental and financial effects of cancer. If you’re looking for more information on cancer nutrition or wondering how you can help improve the lives of those affected by cancer, visit our website.