Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Adjusting your diet to manage side effects of chemotherapy

Adjusting your diet to manage side effects of chemotherapy image

Chemotherapy can cause side effects that affect your appetite. Adjusting your diet may help you to cope.

Your doctor may be able to give you specific advice about your diet.

Drink plenty of fluids

If you have lost your appetite1 or have nausea or vomiting,2 dry mouth,3 or dry skin4 

Drink at least 8 glasses of fluids daily if you have diarrhoea,5 constipation,6 urinary problems,7 or anaemia8

Eat foods containing sodium and potassium

If you have diarrhoea or vomiting5,9

Eat foods high in fibre

If you are constipated6

Eat foods high in protein

If you have anaemiaor are very tired10

Avoid spicy foods

If you have a sore throat or mouth,3 are nauseous,2 have diarrhoea,5 or have urinary problems7

Avoid salty foods

If you have a sore throat or mouth,3 or oedema11

Eat 6 small meals daily

If you have lost your appetite,1 have diarrhoea,9 or are fatigued10

Avoid alcohol

If you have a sore throat or mouth,3 are very tired,10,12 or have urinary problems7

Do not drink or eat too much before bedtime

If you are having trouble sleeping13


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  1. National Cancer Institute. Appetite loss. Accessed November 2015.
  2. National Cancer Institute. Nausea. Accessed November 2015.
  3. National Cancer Institute. Mouth and throat problems. Accessed November 2015.
  4. National Cancer Institute. Skin and nail changes. Accessed November 2015.
  5. NHS Choices. Diarrhoea - treatment. Accessed November 2015.
  6. National Cancer Institute. Constipation. Accessed November 2015.
  7. National Cancer Institute. Urinary and bladder problems. Accessed November 2015.
  8. National Cancer Institute. Anaemia. Accessed November 2015.
  9. National Cancer Institute. Diarrhea. Accessed November 2015.
  10. National Cancer Institute. Fatigue. Accessed November 2015.
  11. National Cancer Institute. Edema. Accessed November 2015.
  12. NHS Choices. Self-help tips to fight fatigue. Accessed November 2015.
  13. National Cancer Institute. Sleep problems. Accessed November 2015.