Diet Tips for Ovarian Cancer
Good nutrition and a healthy diet are important at any time, but especially during and after cancer treatment. Creating a healthy and nutritious diet is essential for your health and recovery during all stages of treatment for ovarian cancer.
Your nutritional needs may vary, especially during and after cancer treatment. Talk with your treatment team about your specific dietary needs and any nutritional goals you might have. It is also helpful to ask about any foods you might need to avoid during treatment.
The importance of nutrition during and after cancer treatment
Both cancer and its treatment can impact your nutrition. They may affect how you eat – you may not be hungry or able to eat the foods you used to eat. Cancer and its treatment may also affect how your body tolerates various foods and uses nutrients.1
Good nutrition has many benefits, including:1,2
- Helping you feel better
- Maintaining your strength
- Helping you maintain a healthy weight
- Reducing your risk of infection
- Improving quality of life
- Healing and recovering faster
How can treatment impact nutrition?
Some treatment side effects may make it hard to maintain good nutrition or eat a varied, well-balanced diet with foods you used to enjoy. Some of these treatment side effects may include:2,3
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Aversions to certain foods
- Mouth sores
- Changes in the way things taste
Though these can be challenging, there are ways to deal with these side effects when it comes to diet and nutrition.
Before adding certain foods or supplements to your diet, talk with your doctor and treatment team. There might be certain foods or ingredients you need to avoid or watch out for.
While you might have some side effects from treatment or even symptoms that linger after treatment, there are steps you can take to get the right nutrition. These tips may help you manage your symptoms while getting enough nutrition: 3
- Eat smaller meals several times a day instead of 3 large meals
- Avoid greasy or high-fat foods
- Take anti-nausea drugs as prescribed to help with nausea and vomiting
- Choose cool or lighter food options
- Do not lay down for at least 30 minutes after eating
- Use nutritional supplements if necessary. Check with your doctor and treatment team to make sure any potential supplements are safe for you
- Choose lower acidic foods (avoid tomatoes, pickled foods, citrus products)
- Choose foods that are not spicy
- Soft-textured foods may be easier for mouth sores
- Avoid gas-producing foods like beans, whole grains, and foods rich in starch
- Try foods several times. Sometimes, if a food does not taste right today, it may taste fine next week
- Use seasonings to add flavor
To get the best nutrition possible during and after treatment, try to choose foods that are rich in nutrients. It is also important to stay hydrated. Check with your doctor and treatment team to find out if you have a fluid intake restriction.
Here are some nutrition tips to keep in mind:4,5
- There are many liquids that can help you stay hydrated, including broth, water, seltzer, fruit juice, sports drinks, and milkshakes
- Do not wait to eat until you are hungry. Instead, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day
- Different colors and textures of food can help make them more appealing
- Eat protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, nuts or nut butters, soy foods, milk, and cheese, or add them to your meals
- Add unflavored protein powder to soups, shakes, or mashed potatoes
- For added protein, add peanut butter or nut butter to smoothies or milkshakes
- Avoid products labeled “low-fat” or “non-fat”
- Dried fruits and nuts are good snacks to take on the go
- Limit your red meat intake
- Try to get a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet each day
Things to consider
Eating well during and after ovarian cancer treatment can be challenging, but it is possible. Ask for help from a nutritionist, especially one who has experience working with people living with cancer. They can help you create a balanced meal plan that is right for you.
If you are worried you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet, ask your treatment team whether nutritional supplements are necessary or safe. They can work with you to figure out if you have nutritional deficiencies and how to reduce them. Do not take any vitamins or nutritional supplements without first checking with your doctors.