To help with this, your healthcare team may put you in touch with a dietician (or nutritionist) who can help you plan healthy meals that work for you.1 For more general advice, you can consider the tips on this page.
A healthy, balanced diet consists of a range of different food types that are eaten in the right amounts.1 This ensures you get enough vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre, which are all vital in helping your body to function well.1,2
Overall, fruits and vegetables should make up over a third of the food you eat in a day. Another third should be taken up by starchy foods, such as breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes – particularly wholegrain or wholemeal varieties, as these contain more fibre than white varieties.1,2
The remaining third should be split between protein, dairy, and a small amount of oils and spreads.1,2
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, and other proteins are essential for our bodies to grow and repair themselves and can also contain vitamins and minerals. Dairy is another source of protein, and also provides calcium, which is important for healthy bones. Finally, you should try to limit the amount of oils and spreads during the day.2
While you may not be able to create this balance in every meal, it’s worth aiming for this at least a few times a week.1
Foods to avoid
In general, it’s best to avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt, or saturated fat, as these foods often have little to no nutrients or vitamins in them.1 They can also lead to wider health problems:2
Remember, as long as you’re maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, you can still enjoy the occasional snack or indulgence.
Cancer treatments can often lead to side effects, including fatigue and loss of appetite. These can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet, which can lead to people with cancer losing weight during treatment. The lower your weight, the harder it can be to cope with treatments, so it’s important to find ways to maintain a healthy diet.
Some people find cooking difficult when they have cancer if they’re experiencing side effects. If you’re struggling like this, why not try some of the ideas below:3
Some people also find that they can lose their appetite. This could be down to changes in how things taste, to nausea, or to just not feeling hungry.4 In these cases, try:
Treatment may come along with other side effects that can affect your eating, such as a dry mouth, trouble swallowing, or mouth sores. The following tips can help you get around these:5