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Good Nutrition and Treatment Side Effects

The importance of good nutrition for mesothelioma patients can not be underestimated, but unfortunately, there may be times when symptoms of the cancer itself or the side effects from treatments or other medications, will make eating an unpleasant experience. The result of poor nutrition may ultimately be fatigue, weight loss and possibility even malnutrition, and these conditions are not only detrimental to health in general, but may cause delays in treatment.

When nutrition is compromised because of the side effects of treatment, there are some general suggestions that may be helpful in lessening a specific symptom. It is always advisable to check with your health care team before making any radical dietary or lifestyle changes, however.

Side Effect Things to Try Things to Avoid
Lack of appetite

Eat small, high calorie meals throughout the day; keep snacks such as popcorn, pudding or yogurt handy.

Drink liquids that are high in nutrients, such as juice, milk, milkshakes or Instant Breakfast.

Eat high calorie foods such as cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, fruits, ice cream or peanut butter; add butter, cream, mayonnaise, milk, oil, sour cream, wheat germ or whipped cream to prepared foods.

Use complete nutritional supplements such as Boost, Ensure or Sustacal, if they have been approved by your doctor.

Exercise lightly and regularly to stimulate your appetite.

Foods you dislike.

Foods that are difficult or time-consuming to prepare.

Foods that are difficult to eat, such as rare meat or dense, raw fruits or vegetables.

Nausea and/or vomiting

Ask your doctor about anti-nausea medications.

Eat small, more frequent meals rather than large meals.

Eat foods cold rather than hot to lessen strong food odors.

Eat dry crackers or toast, pretzels, plain angel food cake or vanilla wafers.

Eat low fat foods that are easy to digest such as baked chicken, boiled potatoes, canned fruits (pears or peaches), cooked vegetables, rice, pasta or sherbet.

Drink clear, cold beverages such as non-caffeinated carbonated sodas, and sip slowly through a straw.

Drink small amounts of liquids frequently throughout the day.

Fatty or greasy foods.

Fried foods.

Spicy foods.

Foods that have strong odors.

Drinking hot liquids, or large amounts of liquids with meals.

Lying down after meals.

* DO NOT eat or drink anything until vomiting is controlled; then begin with small amounts of water or liquids.


Drink as much water and other liquids as possible.

Drink warm beverages.

Eat foods with a high fiber content such as dried beans and peas, dried fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, wheat bran or wheat germ and whole grain breads and cereals.

Exercise lightly and regularly.

Decreasing your amount of fluid intake while increasing fiber intake.



Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Eat smaller amounts of food at each meal.

Eat foods that have high potassium, low fiber content such as baked skinless chicken, baked fish, bananas, canned fruits, lean ground beef, pasta, rice, skinless boiled potatoes and white bread.

Drink liquids that have high potassium, low fiber content such as Gatorade, orange juice, peach or pear nectar or tomato juice.

Foods that are high in fiber such as bran, fresh fruits (excluding bananas), nuts and seeds, popcorn, raw vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals.

Foods that cause gas such as beans, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Gravies and sauces.

Foods that are greasy.

Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, colas and tea.

Carbonated beverages.


Dry Mouth

As your doctor about products that moistened the mouth.

Practice good oral hygiene.

Drink liquids with meals.

Take sips of water or suck ice chips; eat popsicles or sugarless hard candies; chew sugarless gum.

Drink liquids that are high in citric acid and stimulate saliva such as lemonade, limeade and orange juice; add lemon or lime to water or tea.

Alcoholic beverages.

Bread, crackers or dry cake.

Plain meats (add broth, gravy or sauce).

Extremely hot food or beverages.

Mouth Sores

Practice good oral hygiene.

Cook foods until soft or puree foods in a blender.

Eat cold or frozen foods such as ice cream, milkshakes, popsicles, slushes, watermelon and yogurt.

Eat soft foods such as applesauce, bananas, cream soups, cooked cereals, custard, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, pasta, pudding and scrambled eggs.

Use nutritional supplements such as Boost, Carnation Instant Breakfast or Ensure.

Drink fruit nectars; drink through a straw.

Alcoholic beverages.

Acidic foods or beverages such as citrus fruits and juices.

Coarse or dry foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, dry toast, whole grain breads and cereals and crunchy snack foods.

Salty foods.

Spicy foods.

Extremely hot food or beverages.

NCI on nutrition in cancer care



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