Coping with sickness

It’s especially important to eat a balanced diet when you’re having treatment for cancer. Getting the right food helps your body stay strong and fight off infections, and it gives you more energy. However, this can be extra tricky when treatment makes you feel sick or changes your eating habits.

Don't suffer in silence

Talk to your doctor or nurse and ask if there is any medicine you can try. You may also find the suggestions below helpful.

Top tips for coping with sickness:

  • Don’t eat just before or straight after your treatment
  • Try to eat small snacks through the day
  • Talk to your doctor or dietitian about nutritional supplements to make sure you're getting everything your body needs
  • Stay away from anything greasy, like fried food, or with a really strong smell or taste, like garlic or some cheeses. It can be easier to eat light, plain meals.
  • Cold foods usually smell less than hot foods, so try eating things that taste nice cold, like ice cream, yoghurt, cereal, biscuits or salad
  • Ginger or mint may help - try ginger biscuits, ginger ale, peppermint sweets or herb teas that include peppermint or ginger
  • Ask someone if they could make some chilled smoothies for you to sip gently - it’s a tasty way to get enough fruit or dairy products
  • Sucking sweets can sometimes get rid of a bad taste in your mouth. Try fruit sweets, mints or ice lollies
  • Try to keep cool, because getting too hot can make you feel sick
  • Take slow, deep breaths
  • If red meat (things like beef and lamb) now tastes metallic, try eating with a plastic knife and fork
  • Fizzy drinks could also help to settle your stomach, so try sipping these.

Updated April 2018, next review due 2021.