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Foods to Avoid During Chemotherapy

author image Sarah Davis
Sarah Davis has worked in nutrition in the clinical setting and currently works as a licensed Realtor in California. Davis began writing about nutrition in 2006 and had two chapters published in "The Grocery Store Diet" book in 2009. She enjoys writing about nutrition and real estate and managing her website, She earned her bachelor's degree in nutrition from San Diego State University.
Foods to Avoid During Chemotherapy
Fried foods should be avoided during chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment given in hospitals nationwide. Though it’s very effective for destroying cancer cells, the side effects are numerous, since it also affects healthy cells. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss and weight loss are only a few of the common side effects from chemotherapy treatments. When a cancer patient is undergoing chemotherapy treatments, avoiding certain types of foods can help ease the side effects they experience.

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Raw Vegetables

Raw vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, so many cancer patients think that eating them may help them feel better after chemotherapy. The reality is, vegetables should be cooked to ensure safety and reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Dr. Jennifer Sabol of the website Breast Cancer states that receiving chemotherapy treatments decrease a person's white blood cell counts, lowering the immune system. Raw vegetables like cucumber and celery have a higher chance of being contaminated with bacteria than cooked vegetables. Healthy adults can get over a food-borne illness in a few days, but for those with low immune systems, it can be serious or even fatal. Avoiding salad bars and raw vegetables in favor of cooked vegetables is best for chemotherapy patients.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods are another type of food to be avoided during chemotherapy treatments. While they do not directly harm the patient’s health, they can worsen chemotherapy side effects. The website Chemo Care explains that foods like hot peppers and foods with Cajun seasoning or curry can upset the stomach and increase the risk of diarrhea after treatments. Spicy foods may also increase nausea or increase the pain of sores in the mouth and throat.


Oranges, grapefruits and tangerines should all be avoided after chemotherapy, in favor of softer, blander fruits like bananas. Mouth sores are a common side effect of chemotherapy treatments. It can be extremely painful when even the blandest food rubs up against a sore. The high acidity of citrus fruits causes mouth sores to sting. Additionally, Chemo Care states that citrus fruits may lead to constipation in some people.

Fried Foods

Side effects of chemotherapy like nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite can be worsened by eating fried foods. Since chemotherapy patients often have trouble getting enough calories in, their friends and family members may recommend high-calorie foods like fried chicken or French fries. These foods may do more harm than good, causing the patient discomfort. Instead of greasy or fattening foods, baked or grilled foods should be encouraged, as tolerated.

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