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Nutrition & dietary services

Informing your doctor and dietitian about any supplements, vitamins or herbals that you are taking before you begin treatment is recommended. You could be at risk for interaction with your cancer treatment.

Healthy Eating



  • Can come from animal or plant sources. Animal protein sources are absorbed better and usually contain more protein per ounce as compared to plant protein sources.
  • Have protein with each meal or snack to help keep you feeling full. Some examples are:
    • Apple with nut butter
    • Crackers with tuna salad
    • Oatmeal with milk and sliced almonds
  • A serving size is a three-ounce portion of meat or fish (the size of a deck of cards).
  • Plant protein sources provide additional nutrients such as vitamins B and E, iron, magnesium, and fiber.
  • Avoid heavily processed meats such as salted, smoked or cured meats.

Fruits and vegetables

  • Aim for two one-cup servings of fruit per day (one serving with breakfast, and one serving as a snack or a dessert after dinner).
  • Aim for three one-cup servings of vegetables per day (one serving with lunch, one with dinner, and one with a snack)
  • Fresh or frozen fruit (with no sugar added) are both great choices!
    • Wash under running water, no additional detergents or washes are needed.
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables (with no salt or sauces added) are both great choices!
    • Wash under running water, no additional detergents or washes are needed.
  • Canned or jarred fruit can be a good option if it is packed in water or light syrup.
  • Canned vegetables can be a good option if no additional salt is added, and they are rinsed in water.
  • Select a variety of colors at each shopping trip (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white)
  • Certain nutrients are more easily absorbed in the raw state and some after cooking. Enjoy a mixture of both raw and cooked fruit.
  • 100% juice can be a healthful addition to your diet, if you are already eating five servings of fruits/vegetables per day.


  • Low-fat dairy is recommended
  • Three servings per day of dairy. Some examples are:        
    • One cup of milk
    • One-third cup of shredded cheese
    • One cup of yogurt
  • If you have an intolerance to dairy, try:
    • Lactose-free variety
    • Calcium fortified plant milks (soy, rice, nut)
    • Fortified cereals and breads
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Canned fish with bones for the calcium and vitamin D you might be missing from dairy


  • Six servings per day. One serving is equal to:
    • One slice of bread
    • One cup of ready to eat breakfast cereal
    • One-half cup of a cooked grain such as pasta, rice or hot breakfast cereal
    • Two and one-half to three-inch baked potato (size of your fist)
    • One-half cup of corn
  • Half of your grains should be whole grain products
    • The first ingredient on a package needs to be whole wheat flour for it to be considered a whole grain


  • It is truly best to drink 64 to 72 ounces of water each day.  Factors such as delayed wound healing, extreme heat, or high activity may increase your need for water.
  • Pure water is the best and most direct form of hydration for your body, however there are ways to still get some flavor and enjoy your liquids if plain water isn’t your favorite.
    • Drop in fresh fruit such as sliced citrus & berries, cucumbers, or fresh herbs such as mint or basil. Frozen fruit works great too for a chilly treat!
    • Freeze 100% juice, sports drink or tea in ice cube trays and let it slowly infuse the water as it melts.
    • Try mixing water with one-third of flavored beverage such as 100% juice, sports drink or lemonade and two-thirds water for a hint of taste, with a majority as water

Other forms of liquids that contribute to your daily fluid intake include:

  • Milk
  • 100% juice
  • Electrolyte replacement drink (Pedialyte®, Drip Drop®, Gatorade®, homemade unsweetened lemonade
  • Oral nutrition supplements (Ensure® or Boost®)
  • decaffeinated tea
  • carbonated/sparkling water
If you are not at your goal rate for fluids yet, consistently estimate the amount of fluids you drink in a day.  Gradually increase your fluids by one cup every seven to ten days, increasing again only after you consume your new amount comfortably for a few days. Continue this until you reach the recommended amount. This will allow your daily habits, thirst cues and bladder to catch up to your changes. 

Ways to increase your fluid intake throughout your day:

  • Drink with the same cup daily to mark your progress.
  • If drinking from packaged bottled water, line up the bottles each morning on your counter as a visual goal.
  • Use straws to increase the amount taken with each drink.
  • Drink according to external cues such as every commercial break, every new web page that is opened or each turn of the page in your book.
  • Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, since they are about 80-90% water, they are easy ways to get more hydration while still getting other nutrients

Other Tips:

  • Eat mindfully!  Slow down, clear away distractions during meals and engage in conversation.  Notice the colors, flavors, smells and textures of your food to truly appreciate the meal in front of you. 
  • Aim for half of your plate as fruits and vegetables at every meal.  The other half should consist of one-fourth lean protein and one-fourth whole grains.  For more info on this idea, visit
  • Food is medicine!  You will only be able to pull out of your body what you put into it.
  • Avoid smoking and nicotine products.
  • Little or no alcohol consumption-less than two drinks per week.

Ask to meet with your oncology dietitian if:

  • Your doctor has mentioned drinking an oral nutrition supplement such as Boost® or Ensure®.
  • You are in need of a tube feeding.
  • You need help transitioning your hospital diet to your home diet.
  • You are having surgery on your stomach, intestines or pelvic region. The way your body digests and absorbs nutrients may be altered.
  • You continue to experience constipation or diarrhea from your recent surgery or new medications.
  • Your BMI is over 30 and you would like help calculating your dietary needs.
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