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Healthy Diet and Exercise Tips for Breast Cancer Patients

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: I had stage 1A breast cancer and just completed radiation 2 weeks ago. Can you give me nutrition advice on what to eat and what to avoid?

Joanne, Columbia, Maryland

A: Plant-based diets, which include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, are all highly recommended components of a balanced diet for breast cancer survivorship. Research has found that eating 5 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables a day in addition to the equivalent of walking 30 minutes, 6 days per week is associated with significant survival advantage. Please refer to this "Ask the Nutritionist" question and answer about a daily nutrition plan for breast cancer patients.

There are many controversies surrounding consumption of foods such as sugar, soy, and organic meats, vegetables and fruit. Here are some previous "Ask the Nutritionist" questions and answers you may find useful.

Exercise during all stages of life is important, but it can be particularly important for breast cancer survivors because it can help you feel better after treatment and promote survivorship. Studies show that walking 3-5 hours per week at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour can lower the chances of breast cancer recurrence and death by up to 40 percent. Walking can help you fight fatigue, depression, and anxiety as well as improve heart and bone health. Engaging your children in physical activity can be a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily life schedule. Remember to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Eating a well-balanced diet with lean protein, including plant sources, such as lentils, beans, nuts, nut butters, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, in amounts to maintain a healthy weight, along with exercise is the best thing you can do for optimal health.

Please see our video Nutrition and Cancer Survivorship for some great tips.

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  • Ask the Nutritionist

    • Do you have questions about making healthy food choices during and after cancer treatment? Our team of nutrition experts can help. Submit your question through our Ask the Nutritionist form.
    • To create a customized plan, please schedule an appointment with a Dana-Farber nutritionist by calling 617-632-3006.
  • Nutrition Services

  • Breast Cancer Treatment Center

    • Learn more about Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center's treatment and support for patients with breast cancer.
  • Free Nutrition App