Expert Q&A

Before Chemo: Which Foods to Eat on the Day of Chemo?

What are good foods to eat on the day of chemotherapy?

It is important to eat a well balanced diet while undergoing cancer treatment to help maintain body weight, prevent fatigue, and fuel the immune system. People are often nervous when starting chemotherapy and are afraid to eat on their first drug infusion day because they worry about nausea or vomiting. This fear is unwarranted as most cancer centers add anti-nausea medications into the chemotherapy infusion bag to minimize nausea during treatment.

On your first day of chemo, you should eat a low fat meal based on complex carbohydrates and protein. Eating a breakfast of toast with eggs and fruit juice will get you started in the right direction. Drinking extra fluids is also helpful. If you have an all day infusion, remember to pack a lunch and some snacks. Granola bars, crackers, yogurt, pudding, and fruit are all good snack options. Many patients forget to do this and may end up feeling nauseous because they lack food in their stomach. A turkey sandwich and bowl of broth-based soup with a side of fruit is a great light option.

When you get home, it is important to eat dinner even if you are tired. Eating comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken noodle soup, gelatin, and sandwiches are light and healthy options. If you are feeling nauseous, take the prescribed nausea medication to lessen the side effects and try to eat small amounts of food every two to three hours. Avoid your favorite foods during this time so that you do not associate them with nausea later on.

Dena McDowell, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

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