Nutrition, Cancer, and You


This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding diet.

This article has been written reviewed by Dietetics Student, Amanda Verheydt. 


Cancer affects millions of people in the United States every year. Whether it’s you, a family member, or friend this disease is widespread and has a large impact on everyone involved.

When people think of cancer treatment, it is common to think about chemotherapy or radiation but there are many other parts of cancer care that help to make up the whole. Nutrition plays a role in cancer support too! Read along to find out what nutrition can mean during cancer treatment.

Cancer treatments are known to be taxing on the body and can lead to loss of appetite, weight loss, and malnutrition. Weight loss caused during chemotherapy and radiation can make cancer symptoms worse. Nutrition support can help to prevent these symptoms and aid in a better quality of life.

Cancer affects everyone differently and a registered dietitian can help to give personalized recommendations. However, common nutrition therapy includes:

  • Enhancing immune function
  • Maintain strength
  • Preserve lean body mass
  • Prevent malnutrition
  • Prevent weight loss
  • Emphasizing quality of life, independence, and comfort

By getting a diet full of variety, fats, and protein, weight loss can help to be prevented. Maintaining quality of life is also pertinent throughout cancer treatment. Eating comfort foods are beneficial to keeping spirits up through this time.

With a decreased appetite, a way to get in these nutrients is by drinking calories where possible. Smoothies, shakes, and broths are a good way to get nutrients into the diet during these hard times. During this time, also consider having many small meals/snacks throughout the day instead of trying to get all of your nutrients in one sitting. This is helpful to not overload the body with a lot at once and allows for smoother digestion.

Having a good source of protein is a big contributor to preventing loss of lean body mass and helping to keep the severity of symptoms at bay. Try fish and poultry in your diet to keep protein levels high. Other sources of protein include: lamb, beef, pork, tofu, tempeh, lentils, and beans.

Looking for high quality fats is another great way to maintain weight and strength throughout cancer treatment. There are many types of fats including saturated and unsaturated. Both types of fats can be beneficial during cancer treatment, but it is good to have more unsaturated fats overall.

Saturated fat sources include: beef, coconut oil, butter, processed meats (sausage), and cheese.

Unsaturated fat sources include: olive oil, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, fish, avocados, and canola oil.

Performance Kitchen’s cancer support meal plan is made with the intention of providing good quality nutrients in each meal. Providing an elevated fat content, as well as whole grain options are geared to optimize health throughout cancer treatment and provide with the convenience of time and no mess. PK’s meals are great for those in need of an easy meal but still need the nutrients to live the highest quality life possible.

We offer free nutrition consultations to answer your nutritional questions and help you make the decisions that are right for you. Book a free nutrition consultation today with one of our Registered Dietitians.