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Meals During Chemotherapy

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: What are best foods, for all meals, while undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic and liver cancer? I need to keep weight on and strength up while I am going thru these treatments which are aggressive.

Paul, Albany, New York

A: When planning your meals it is generally important to include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Focusing on having a fruit/vegetable, whole grains and lean protein at every meal/snack is an easy way to breakdown meal planning. Here is a good visual portion guide.

We also have a meal planning guideline available. This includes suggestions for every meal.

The foods you asked about — corn, peas, eggs, pineapple and soy protein (we suggest non-GMO) — are all okay to consume during your treatment. Carbohydrates are fine to consume, but you should try to avoid refined and processed carbs such as white flour, white pasta and any packaged cakes and cookies. Red meat can be included in your diet but it should be eaten less often and look for grass-fed. Cooked cruciferous vegetables are healthy and may be better tolerated in your case compared to raw (i.e. cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts). You may need to adjust these suggestions if you are having problems with gas, bloating, diarrhea or other symptoms.

If you have specific questions regarding any weight loss or other symptoms from your treatment, ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian.

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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.
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