Appetite and Nutrition

Northwest Montana Radiation Oncology
Eating well while getting radiation may be hard to do, especially if you are being treated at a center far from your home. If the treatment facility has a kitchen, you can store and easily prepare frozen foods, soups, or single servings of fruits, puddings, gelatin, ice cream or cereals.

If there is no kitchen where you are staying, bring foods that do not require refrigeration, like crackers with cheese or peanut butter, granola bars, cereal, or single-serving bowls of fruit, gelatin or pudding.

How Nutrition Affects Your Body

Eating nutritious foods during radiation therapy can be beneficial to help you:
  • Feel better.
  • Keep up your strength and energy.
  • Maintain your weight and your body's store of nutrients.
  • Tolerate treatment-related side effects.
  • Decrease your risk of infection.
  • Heal and recover faster.

Tips for Eating Well

  • Try to eat something at least an hour before treatment rather than going in with an empty stomach.
  • If you are traveling a long distance, bring snacks or nutrition supplements with you to eat or drink on the ride to and from treatment.
  • Eat small, frequent meals with fluids if food does not taste good, hurts going down or causes diarrhea.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water and other liquids.
  • Ask friends and family members to help by shopping for groceries and preparing meals.
  • Do not expect to have the same side effects as someone else being treated for cancer in another area of the body. Even people with the exact same treatment may have different side effects.
  • Try to eat small, frequent meals and snacks rather than three large meals. If your appetite is better at certain times of the day, plan on having your largest meal then.
  • Protein is very important to keep your body functioning and is also needed for growth and repair. If you have been advised to add calories and protein to your diet during radiation therapy, be sure to consider meat and plant protein options including cheese, nuts, seeds, beans, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and milk. A protein powder supplement can be mixed into food and drinks to boost your protein intake.
  • Nutrition supplements, such as liquid meal replacements, may help during this time. Your doctor, nurse or dietitian may have samples for you to try. Sometimes your insurance company will pay for nutrition supplements if your doctor orders them.