Food as Medicine

Check out our nutritional tips for managing side effects of cancer treatment

Cancer and its treatment can wreak havoc on your diet. That's why the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center's registered dietitians, Joan Daniels and Nancy Burke, devote most of their practice to helping patients cope with symptoms and side effects. They put together a checklist with ideas about how to handle common concerns patients face.

Constipation Diarrhea Dry Mouth and Thick Saliva
Constipation Diarrhea Dry Mouth and Thick Saliva
DO
  • Stay well-hydrated: try warm juice or hot lemonade
  • Eat high-fiber foods if possible
  • Eat at regular times daily

DON'T

  • Drink with a straw
  • Chew gum
  • Skip exercise: Even a light walk daily can help
DO
  • Sip fluids slowly and constantly
  • Eat foods high in soluble fiber, like bananas, white rice and oatmeal
  • Eat small, frequent snacks

DON'T

  • Consume acidic fruits or beverages
  • Eat raw veggies or whole-grain breads
  • Eat greasy, fatty foods
  • Consume caffeine
DO
  • Sip fluids slowly and constantly
  • Stay well-hydrated
  • Keep your mouth clean
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier
  • Eat soft, cool, bland foods
  • Suck on lemon drops, ice chips or popsicles

DON'T

  • Use commercial mouthwashes; try 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt in 1 quart water
  • Drink alcohol or acidic beverages
  • Smoke
  • Consume caffeine
Mouth Sores Nausea Taste Changes
Mouth Sores Nausea Taste Changes
DO
  • Eat soft, cool, bland foods
  • Drink with a straw
  • Rinse mouth with 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt in 1 quart water

DON'T

  • Drink acidic juices or eat acidic foods
  • Consume caffeine
  • Smoke
  • Eat hot foods
  • Eat salty foods
  • Suck tart candies
  • Chew tough foods
DO
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Sip fluids slowly and constantly
  • Eat bland, dry, salty, starchy foods
  • Try ginger ales, ginger tea or ginger candy
  • Talk to your doctor about anti-nausea
  • medicine

DON'T

  • Eat hot foods with strong odors
  • Eat greasy, fried, spicy or sweet food
  • Eat in a stuffy room with cooking odors
  • Lay down after eating
  • Drink coffee
DO
  • Practice good oral hygiene
  • Suck on mints or chew gum
  • Rinse mouth with teas, salted water or ginger ale
  • Use tart foods to mask metallic or sweet tastes
  • Increase sugar if food tastes bland

DON'T

  • Stop eating; think of food as medicine to get you through
  • Use metal utensils or drink from cans if food tastes metallic

 

View more nutritional tips for managing side effects of cancer on the Managing Eating Problems web page.

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Thrive Issue: 
Fall, 2010