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The nutrition experts at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center will help you follow a healthy diet during and after your cancer treatment. They have special training in oncology and nutrition, and base their advice on scientifically sound nutrition research.
Our nutritionists are registered dietitians who can assist you in planning an optimal diet during any stage of your cancer journey, cope with any side-effects you may experience, and answer your questions about the latest findings on cancer and nutrition.
They can also offer you open-minded advice on vitamins and supplements you may consider integrating into your diet.
We encourage you to contact our nutrition experts for individual appointments and invite you to explore our online nutrition resources, including:
Read our Insight blog for information and inspiration about nutrition services at Dana-Farber.
Nutrition ServicesPhone: 617-632-3006
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center has one of the largest outpatient oncology nutrition departments in the United States. Our team is a diverse set of professionals, each with a specialized area of expertise. We have experience and training in oncology and are here to help you manage your nutrition during and beyond your cancer treatment.
Director of Nutrition DepartmentDFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterKathy is well known in the nutrition and medical community as an author and lecturer in Boston, across the U.S., and internationally. Kathy has also published numerous research articles on nutrition and health.
DFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterEm brings her love of cooking, fitness and integrative approach to wellness to the Dana-Farber nutrition team. Em’s enthusiasm and passion for nutrition has led to interviews for WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, WBZ, Boston’s CBS, Fox 25 News and Boston’s NPR. She is also a regular speaker for survivorship seminars at DFCI.
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore HospitalDonna has experience in oncology, weight management and diabetes counseling. She is also interested in yoga and preventative health.
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore HospitalJulie has a variety of experience and has a special interest in oncology, diabetes, weight management and kidney disease as well as survivorship nutrition.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at St. Elizabeth’s Medical CenterStephanie uses her passion for oncology nutrition, combined with her love for food, to help her patients receive the best plan of care. In addition to working at Dana-Farber, she counsels patients in private practice for weight management and behavior modification.
DFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterHannah has a passion for oncology nutrition and uses this to help develop individualized nutrition plans for patients throughout the spectrum of cancer treatment and survivorship. Hannah is a board certified nutrition support specialist and enjoys working with patients who require tube feeding and/or TPN (IV nutrition).
Dana-Farber/New Hamphire Oncology-HematologyMichelle’s special interest in oncology nutrition started in 2000, as she counseled women with breast cancer in the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS). She’s also a trainer for Motivational Interviewing (MI). In addition to helping dietitians counsel their patients more effectively, Michelle applies her MI approach to guide patients toward behavior changes for a variety of nutrition issues, including chemo-symptom management, weight management, and overall health and wellness.
DFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterStacy is a senior clinical nutritionist and Board Certified as a Specialist in Oncology Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College and sees clients in private practice. Stacy is regularly featured in TV, radio, print, and social media on behalf of Dana-Farber and other organizations. She also conducts educational seminars, workshops and writes for online health websites on nutrition, exercise, weight management, and wellness. Stacy is featured in award-winning documentary films and works as a nutrition consultant for various businesses focused on health and wellness. You can follow Stacy on Twitter and Instagram @StacyKennedyRD.
DFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterStephanie’s research and clinical practice includes the emerging field of mindful eating and cancer survivorship. In addition to her work at Dana-Farber, Stephanie teaches in Department of Nutrition at Boston University. She is a popular public speaker, and has presented educational seminars nation-wide on mindful eating, nutrition for cancer survivorship, and integrative nutrition.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Milford Regional Medical CenterSheri has many years’ experience working with oncology patients, and earned her Master’s degree in Nutrition through the University of Rhode Island. She is a board certified nutrition support specialist and has worked with many patients requiring feeding tubes and/or IV nutrition. She is also interested in diabetes management and recently became a Certified Diabetes Educator.
DFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterMae has a passion for providing comprehensive nutrition evaluations and evidence-based recommendations to her oncology patients. She loves to cook and find ways to help patients incorporate more plant-based foods with delicious recipes. Mae is a board certified nutrition support specialist and enjoys working with patients who require tube feeding and/or TPN (IV nutrition).
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Milford Regional Medical CenterLisa studied culinary nutrition at Johnson and Wales University. She has worked in oncology for the last five years.
DFCI Main Campus & Yawkey CenterHillary has worked extensively with patients who have diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses, in addition to cancer. Hillary is also the Director of Nutrition Counseling for the Domar Center for Mind Body Health and is the author of The PCOS Diet Plan: A Natural Approach to Health for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
The optimal diet for cancer patients and survivors emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, foods rich in healthy fats like omega-3 and monounsaturated fats and lean protein sources.
At every meal, you should strike a healthy balance of foods by planning your plate into these sections:
Below are tips on how to plan for each part of your plate for optimal nutrition.
Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, which are natural compounds found in plant-based foods. They are essentially the plant’s immune system and offer protection to you in a variety of ways.
They act as antioxidants, boost immunity, form anti-inflammatory pathways, discourage tumors from being able to create their own blood supply, promote apoptosis (cancer cell death), and help your body to detoxify naturally.
Try to eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. One serving is equal to:
When possible, choose local and in-season produce. Consider choosing organic fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen List.
Find out more about the best ways to choose and prepare fruits and vegetables.
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm. Unlike refined grains, they contain fiber, phytonutrients as well as other vitamins and minerals that are important for supporting your immune system during and after cancer treatment.
Aim to eat 25-35 grams of fiber per day by following these tips:
Protein is necessary for the growth and repair of all the cells in your body, including red blood cells, white blood cells, muscles, and hormones. Protein is made up of amino acids, some of which cannot be made by your body. When selecting a protein, choose lean, high-quality sources.
Protein-rich foods include:
Find out more about the healthiest cooking techniques.
A diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and high in omega-3, monounsaturated fats from plant oils, nuts, seeds, and fish is recommended for everyone, and may be particularly important for cancer survivors. Aim to decrease your consumption of foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, which are unhealthy and can be taxing to your heart and circulation. Instead, choose foods that are high in healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats.
Healthy fats include:
Unhealthy fats include:
Fluids are important for your overall health because the adult body is about 60 percent water. If you're not getting enough fluids, you can become dehydrated, which can slow your metabolism and harm your body’s ability to eliminate toxins.
Fluids are considered anything that is liquid when kept at room temperature, excluding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
Examples of healthy fluids include:
The amount of fluid you need may change from day to day. The general recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses works for some people, but it may not be enough for others. For a more precise answer, ask a Registered Dietitian.
Before beginning a vitamin or alternative diet regimen, it's important to meet with a nutritionist. Our nutritionists will review, research, and discuss your questions or concerns related to vitamins, herbs, and other supplements or special diets in the context of your current medical treatment plan, and make recommendations based on the most up-to-date research available.
We will address potential safety concerns that may arise if you are taking supplements while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, or taking certain medications.
You may experience side effects during your cancer treatment. Our nutrition team offers advice on how to help you manage them and minimize their impact on your quality of life.
Tips for minimizing nausea:
Sometimes just thinking about treatment may make you nauseous. This is called anticipatory nausea, which you can decrease with relaxation techniques.
Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies offers services which may help decrease your nausea, such as Reiki and acupuncture. Additionally, your care provider can prescribe medication that will help minimize nausea.
Tips for helping lack of appetite:
Cancer treatment can leave you with lack of appetite due to nausea, difficulty swallowing, and fatigue, and this can lead to weight loss. During treatment, it's especially important that you eat more to help your body heal and keep your immune system strong.
Tips for increasing calories from healthful foods:
Fatigue, decreased physical activity, eating to cope with nausea, and stress can all contribute to unintentional weight gain. However, you can lose weight during and after cancer treatment in a healthy way while still meeting your nutritional needs.
Tips for promoting healthy weight loss:
These are just a few ways to trim calories. Mix and match and choose what works best for you:
Tips for battling constipation:
Tips for battling diarrhea:
Other common side effects include lack of energy, difficulty swallowing, and sleep disturbances. Our nutritionists are experienced in treating these issues and can help tailor a plan to manage them for you.
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
An answer to your question may appear on this site and will be sent to you via email.
Search for previous Ask the Nutritionist questions and answers in the Health Library.
Every Wednesday12:00 – 1:00 p.m.Kessler Health Education LibraryFrancis Street, Main Lobby (behind Information Desk)Boston, MA 02115If you have pre-diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, you can do something about it. Studies have shown that people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes through changes to their lifestyle that include a healthy eating pattern, modest weight loss and regular exercise. This program is free to everyone.
View events at the Dana-Farber/New Hampshire Oncology-Hematology satellite location
The following resources are have been hand selected by our registered dietitians here at Dana-Farber. The list below includes videos, books, websites, and educational materials that we recommend consulting for additional information about living a balanced and healthful life.
In this series of short videos, Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, answers questions about nutrition during cancer treatment.
Recommended nutrition books
Recommended nutrition education materials
Recommended nutrition websites
If you have an urgent nutrition question, we recommend that you contact your physician and/or nutritionist. If you are a Dana-Farber patient and would like to meet with one of our nutritionists, please contact us at 617-632-3006.