What to eat during cancer treatment

Which should be the diet during cancer treatment? What advice and recommendations should you follow? How to maintain an optimal nutritional status? Read the information, advice, and recommendations below to adapt the diet to the treatment.

Most treatments are long and combine different types of therapy that can cause multiple side effects. The general dietary recommendations are similar for all oncological processes and stages of treatment, nevertheless, they should be adjusted according to the symptoms or side effects of each treatment.

Whatever the type of cancer, the location of the tumor, or the treatment stage (and if there is no specific recommendation from your doctor), the general recommendation is to follow a healthy and balanced diet which contains foods from all food groups in the adequate quantity and frequency.



Obtain the necessary nutrients so the body functions well


Maintain a good nutritional status


Maintain an adequate body weight


Keep the body hydrated


Better tolerate treatment and side effects


Fight possible infections


Maintain quality of life throughout the treatment


A healthy and balanced diet contains foods from all food groups in adequate quantity and frequency. It provides all the necessary nutrients to take good care of our body and its functions while ensuring energy and essential proteins for maintaining a good nutritional status.

The following information presents 10 key points to take into account when talking about food and diet during the treatment of any type of cancer, which should be adapted according to the possible appearance of side effects from treatment, complications or specific situations arising from the location of the tumour or previous pathologies such as allergies, intolerances, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, kidney disease, or others. It is essential to talk to a registered dietitian about the suitability of these recommendations for your specific requirements.

The 10 key points regarding nutrition and cancer treatment

Have four to five meals a day, preferably light and varied.


Include a daily consumption of fruit and vegetables, as they are the main source of vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients and, at the same time, are an excellent source of minerals, fibre, and water.


Ensure an adequate intake of protein to better cope with treatment, help tissue repair, and maintain or recover muscle mass.


Eat full meals to ensure a balanced diet.


Hydrate. Drinking is essential as it helps to keep the body’s cells hydrated and is especially important during treatment.


Limit the consumption of products rich in salt, sugars and/or saturated fats, such as ready-made meals, table sugar, processed pastries or baked goods, sweets, sugary soft drinks, or very salty snacks, amongst others, as they provide fewer essential nutrients and more calories, which could contribute to unwanted weight gain.


Follow food safety rules and measures to avoid infections. Sometimes during treatment, the immune system may be weak, so it is necessary to take good hygiene measures to reduce the risk of suffering from food poisoning.


Prepare dishes that are light, easily digestible, and tasty.


Eat in the company of other people. It would be ideal to have at least one meal a day sitting with family or friends around the table.


Be physically active on a regular basis. Staying active and exercising will help maintain muscle mass and bone mineralisation. It also helps you feel better and maintains your ability to carry out everyday activities.