Healthy Eating

Eating well can help you feel and live better during and after treatment.

Nearly 70% of people with cancer want more information on healthy living, including how to eat healthier.

Common Questions About Nutrition

Cancer patients often have questions about nutrition during and after cancer treatment. Common questions include:

  • Is it okay to drink alcohol during treatment?
  • If I eat less fat, will my risk of cancer coming back be less?
  • Does sugar make cancer worse?
  • Will eating fruits and vegetables lower the risk of cancer coming back?
  • How much water should I drink?

Get answers from the American Cancer Society to these and many other questions.

Eat Well After Treatment

After your treatment, eating well will help you regain your strength, rebuild tissue, and feel better overall.
Follow these tips for healthy eating after cancer:

  • Ask a dietitian to help you create a nutritious, balanced eating plan.
  • Select foods from all of the food groups.
  • Choose high-fiber foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • Limit red meats.
  • Bake or broil meats instead of frying to reduce the amount of fat in your diet.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than one (for women) or two (for men) drinks per day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Shop Smart

Eating healthy starts at the supermarket. Stock your kitchen with a variety of healthy foods that you can mix and match to prepare nutritious meals and snacks.

Use a Shopping List

  • Create a shopping list before you go to the supermarket. This can help you plan out meals and avoid forgetting key ingredients.
  • Get started with this list of basic ingredients for a healthy kitchen.

Shop Smart and Healthy

Want to make smarter choices at the grocery store? Here’s how.

  • Choose a variety of fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Shop for breads, cereals, and pastas that list a whole grain as the first ingredient.
  • Choose lower fat milk (skim or 1%), yogurt, and cheese.
  • Buy leaner cuts of beef or pork with “loin” or “round” in the name.

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating means really paying attention to what, where, and when you eat. Be aware of where you are—whether you’re at home, at the movie theater, or in the food court at the mall—because your location can affect your food choices. Also, notice how you’re feeling when you eat, because your emotions can affect your choices and how much you eat. Mindful eating also means listening to your body for hunger cues and taking time to experience food through all five of your senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. Taking a mindful approach to your meals can help you make healthier choices and enjoy your food more. Learn more about mindfulness.

Follow these tips to help you become a more mindful eater:

  • Check in with your hunger level before you eat. The goal is to be moderately hungry (but not famished) when you choose to eat.
  • Do a belly check: Are you really hungry, or are you eating for some other reason?
  • Pay attention to know when you’re getting full and stop eating when your body says “enough.”
  • Eliminate distractions by turning off the phone, television, and computer.
  • Sit down at the dinner table to eat so you can focus on eating.
  • Take your time while eating and enjoy each bite using all five senses! We often think about how food smells and tastes. But how does it feel in your mouth? How does it look on the plate? How does it sound as you chew?
  • Take a moment to appreciate the opportunity to care for your body through eating healthy.

Resources for Healthy Eating

Use your smartphone as a tool to help you eat and live healthier. From apps and texting programs to videos and online calculators, your smartphone can provide easy access to many resources that can help you develop healthy eating habits.

Sign up for Daily Text Message Tips: HealthyYouTXT

HealthyYouTXT provides 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to help you achieve your health goals and stay on track. Simply text the word HEALTH to 333888 from your mobile phone, answer a few questions, and start receiving messages. You can also sign up online today.

Watch Videos on Diet, Nutrition, and Weight

In just a few minutes, you can find out how to eat and live healthier with these helpful videos.

Healthy Living Basics: Eating Well

Learn tips for eating well and maintaining a healthy weight.

Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Life

Learn how to stock your kitchen with healthy foods that are easy to prepare and taste great.

Eating Healthy on the Go

Learn tips to help you eat healthy food when you’re on the go or have a busy schedule.

Creating Healthy Environments

Discover the barriers to making healthy eating choices in your community and ways to overcome those barriers.

Track What You Eat: USDA SuperTracker

Use SuperTracker to plan, analyze, and track your food and physical activity on mobile, tablet, and desktop. Keep track of what you eat and your activity level to help you live healthier.

Use a Calculator

Use these easy-to-use online calculators to find out how to get and keep a healthy weight.

Body Mass Index Calculator

Is your body weight a healthy one? Find out by entering your height and weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

Daily Caloric Needs Calculator

By entering your age, weight, and height into this online calorie counter, you can learn how many calories you should eat each day to maintain your current weight.

Take a Quiz: Do You Have Healthy Habits?

How healthy are your habits? Your answers to these 12 yes or no questions about diet and exercise will let you know if you are living smart! Take this quiz and find out.

Learn More About Healthy Eating

The American Cancer Society has additional resources to help you, including information on nutrition after treatment ends and cookbooks with healthy recipes.