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How to Lose Weight after Cancer Treatment

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do both to help reduce your chance of developing cancer and to help promote cancer survivorship. It’s not uncommon, however, to gain weight during or after cancer treatment.


Weight gain is often seen in patients going through breast, prostate, and colon cancer treatment. This may be a result of a combination of factors, including disease- or treatment-induced hormonal effects or changes. Even subtle changes, such as a decrease in physical activity, or eating more "comfort" foods to offset side effects like nausea or stress, can result in increased weight gain.

But unwanted weight gain can be managed, and even reversed, by following some simple, healthy eating and activity guidelines:

  • Follow a schedule, and don't skip any meals or snacks.
  • Fill up on nourishing, naturally low-calorie foods, such as including a fruit/veggie at every meal or snack. The fiber will keep you full and help prevent overeating.
  • Adjust your portions by using a smaller plate, which will make a smaller portion look bigger.
  • Balance your plate by making at least half of your plate consist of vegetables and fruit, one quarter of your plate should be lean protein, and one quarter whole grains.
  • Incorporate moderate exercise.
  • Get adequate sleep.

Tip — How to Prepare Healthy Foods on the Go

When you're going through cancer treatment, you may feel that you don't have the time or energy to prepare healthy food. But it's possible to pull together quick and easy meals that are nutritious, taste good, and leave you feeling full and satisfied so that you don't have the urge to overeat. Watch a demonstration on how to prepare a whole wheat turkey wrap.


Learn more about nutrition services at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and how you can eat well during cancer treatment.

View more "Eating Well During Cancer" videos.

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  • Cancer and Nutrition Twitter Chat

    • mango Read a transcript of a Twitter chat on cancer and nutrition, hosted by Dana-Farber and Health Central and featuring Stacy Kennedy, Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. Topics include managing side effects through diet, good foods to eat, and foods to avoid during treatment.
  • Nutrition Services

  • Free Nutrition App

  • 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.