Cancer Nutrition Services

Nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment and recovery. Good nutrition before, during and after treatment can help with healing, promote health and reduce the risk of infection.

Before treatment

Feeling anxious about what to eat is normal. Many wonder what is a "good" food and which ones are "bad." As with many things in life, it all comes down to balance and practicing moderation with all foods. Being prepared will help empower you at this time. Eating well when you have cancer can help ease symptoms of treatment.

During treatment

The main nutritional goal during treatment is keeping your weight as stable as possible and staying hydrated. Most people need to increase the amount of calories and protein in their diet. Some may also need to experiment in the kitchen with different foods and drink recipes to achieve an adequate amount of calories and protein.

Here are a few nutrition tips to follow during cancer treatment.
  • Eat six to eight small meals a day instead of three large meals. 
  • Keep nutritious snacks handy to eat when you are hungry. 
  • Choose soft, moist foods that are easy to chew and swallow. 
  • Serve foods at different temperatures, such as very cold or at room temperature. 
  • Avoid foods that are fatty, greasy or spicy. 

After treatment

Cancer treatment can sometimes cause side effects that affect your ability to eat.

Here are some tips to cope with some of the most common side effects.

  • Choose a diet with many types of plant-based foods. 
  • Try to eat at least five colorful servings a day from the fruit and vegetable group, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables. 
  • Include more high-fiber foods each day, such as legumes and whole-grain breads and cereals. 
  • With each meal, eat a good source of protein such as legumes and lentils, nuts and seeds, soy foods, fish, poultry and meat. 
  • Limit high-fat foods, particularly those from animal sources. When eating fats, choose a healthy fat such as canola, olive or safflower oil.
  • Learn more about plant foods that help prevent cancer, and foods that provide the phytochemicals, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that appear to reduce cancer risk.
  • Nutritional recommendations can vary from person to person. For more information about good nutrition for cancer treatment and recovery, or to learn how to manage a specific side effect with your diet, contact our Methodist Jennie Edmundson Cancer Center's registered dietitians.


Methodist Jennie Edmundson Cancer Center
933 E. Pierce St.
Council Bluffs, IA 51503