While undergoing treatment for breast cancer, it is important to maintain a generally healthy diet, but here are some particular guidelines to follow. As a rule, make sure to eat enough calories and protein. If you lose your appetite, try smoothies, and keep easy foods around such as sardines, nuts/seeds, eggs and yogurt. Also, drink plenty of water throughout the day– aim for 6-8 cups.
- Eat a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet.
- Avoid foods with refined sugar as much as possible.
- Check blood test for vitamin D levels.
- Limit saturated fats and eliminate trans fats.
Specific Foods to seek out
- Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts)
- These vegetables are high in glucosinolates which are sulfur-containing compounds which convert to sulforaphane (SFN) a chemopreventive, which induces apoptosis of cancer cells and slows their growth.
- Foods high in beta carotene (look for vegetables that are orange, red, or yellow, such as peppers, squash, and carrots)
- Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids: ALA (flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hempseeds) and EPA/DHA (salmon, sardines, black cod, mackerel)
- Flaxseeds (Grind them to increase their availability)
- These seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans which have beneficial phytoestrogen which helps with Tamoxifen (SERM).
Can I eat soy?
- It’s a good idea to limit processed soy products such as supplements or isoflavone extracts.
- Stick to whole soy foods such as miso, edamame and tofu
Breast cancer treatment can trigger certain responses that make eating difficult.
Change in taste
- Keep a list of favorite foods and dishes
- Use tart flavors (if tolerated) such as lemon, pickled foods, balsamic vinegar
- Season foods with herbs and spices such as oregano, onion, garlic or rosemary
- Rinse your mouth with water and baking soda
Nausea and Vomiting
- Eat small and light meals before treatment
- Bland foods: oatmeal, boiled potatoes, rice, toast, crackers
- Avoid high fat, fried, very sweet and heavily spiced foods
- Increase fluid intake
- Replenish lost electrolytes with broth, bananas, sprinkle sea salt in water, dark greens and fruits
- Increase fiber and fluids
Gas and bloating
- Avoid cauliflower, cabbage and beans
For more tips, check out our Nutrition Tips for Breast Cancer Patients booklet.