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Healthy Nutrition Post Treatment

I'm Mary Smith, and I'm a healthcare professional

Its common for post-treatment survivors to take stock of their past eating habits and exercise routines once they’ve completed treatment. The intention to regain strength and promote a healthy lifestyle is to be commended. Yet many survivors are unsure of what changes need to be made. Giving up fast foods seems obvious, although what food selections are considered the best choices can be a little vague.

Being overweight not only increases the chance of developing numerous types of cancer, but also increases the chance of recurrence. With this in mind, survivors are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and follow a nutritious diet. There is even strong evidence that a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of cancer. Studies have shown that people who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables and minimal animal fat have a lower rate of some cancers.

As explained by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), “Studies indicate that red meat promotes inflammation in human tissue; this inflammation is believed to stimulate the growth of cancerous tumors. Plant foods, on the other hand, contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E, which protect the cells from free radicals – unstable molecules that damage healthy cells and are linked to aging and disease. Phytochemicals, also found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, are compounds that may thwart the action of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and aid cells in blocking the development of cancer”.

In making the best food choices and maintaining a healthy diet, here are a few NCCN guidelines to use as reference -

• Eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. A serving can be a cup of dark leafy greens or berries, a medium fruit, or a half cup of other colorful choices; use plant-based seasonings like parsley and turmeric;
• Go for whole grains. Opt for high-fiber breads and cereals, including brown rice, barley, bulgur, and oats; avoid refined foods, such as donuts and white bread, and those high in sugar;
• Choose lean protein. Stick to fish, poultry, and tofu, limiting red meat and processed meats;
• Keep dairy low fat. Select skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced-fat cheeses.

• Eat fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and canned tuna at least twice a week. The fats in these fish are the “good” heart-healthy omega-3 fats; other sources of these fats include walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseeds;
• Aim for a variety of foods. Create a balanced plate that is one-half cooked or raw vegetables, one-fourth lean protein (chicken, fish, lean meat, or dairy) and one-fourth whole grains;
• Eat foods high in vitamin D. These include salmon, sardines, fortified orange juice, milk, and fortified cereal. Research suggests that vitamin D, which also comes from sun exposure, prevents cancer and may decrease the risk of recurrence and improve survival

Other guidelines to consider -

• Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been linked to cancer risk.
• Food – not supplements – are the best source of vitamins and minerals. There is no evidence that dietary supplements provide the same anti-cancer benefits as fruits and vegetables, and some high-dose supplements may actually increase cancer risk.
• Be “mindful” when eating. Research suggests that we tend to eat more calories and food with fewer nutrients when we are watching TV, driving, or doing other activities.

  • Post #1
  • Thu Sep 22, 2011
I'm Cheryl Norman, a breast cancer survivor

This is a great post! The nutritional information is important, but it’s difficult to apply when you don’t feel energetic. What I needed were ideas for easy meals that would give me lots of fish, vegetables, etc. without my having to stand in the kitchen and do a lot of work. (I like low fat dairy but not no fat because often there are additives to enhance flavor that my body doesn’t need.) Whole grains are still a challenge when almost everybody wants to feed you white rice and semolina spaghetti. So I wrote my own book with plenty of recipes using whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and frozen or already prepped vegetables..

One thing I wish you would emphasize is sugar. We eat too much sugar in our diet, particularly refined sugar. After my treatment for breast cancer, I was given a prescription for five years called Arimedex, and one of its side effects is weight gain. I soon found out why. I stayed hungry! When I eliminated sweets from my diet, I dropped weight and controlled my hunger, slept better, and now no longer need my acid reflux meds. Acid reflux medicines can cause bone loss (as can Arimidex), so I consider this a win.

  • Post #2
  • Sat Sep 24, 2011
Hi, I'm Vicki G.

I would like to have some information of the material you said you made a book of. My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy, that’s all he will eat. I am eating more red meat than I should and would l like to find ways to fix myself something so I don’t eat all that red meat.

  • Post #3
  • Sat Sep 24, 2011
I'm bendeschaadsthinkingagain, and I'm a healthcare professional

Great information Becky. I avoid fast food places now. Take 8000 IU of vitamin D and 2 caltrate daily per doctor order (not prescribed.) I had a similar situation to Cheryl N. as I was given prednisone and gained 65 pounds, of which, I have lost 30 with much hard work and diet. As you pointed out energy comes back slowly and is linked with proper nutrition….but, a quick fix for me was “sugar” “carbs” and “energy drinks” which my doctor put a stop to (thank goodness for good follow up care by my physician).
Good post and good comments by other cancer fighters.
I shall stop posting for now and go for my 2 mile walk.

  • Post #4
  • Wed Sep 28, 2011
Delicious, Healthy Recipes For Breast Cancer Survivors and Those Who Love Them

For healthy cooking simplified, you can drop by my blog any time. I’m a 4-year survivor with a background in cooking as well as nutrition (health psychology), and I started the blog for that very reason :)
The blog is called Pink Kitchen, and I post a new recipe every week.

  • Post #5
  • Wed Dec 14, 2011
Hi, I'm Katie and I'm a Survivor!

This discussion has really good information and a great list of suggestions in the first post.

The latest information on nutrients and many recipes that can be prepared in 5 to 15 minutes (30 minutes is the longest) can come to you free in a short daily email. Info can be found at The World’s Healthiest Foods website:

This is a free site (run by a foundation). Lots and lots of well researched information. Beautiful site. Enjoy!!!

  • Post #6
  • Fri Jul 4, 2014

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