This Article is From Feb 06, 2020

Cancer Treatment: What Patients Need To Eat During And After Treatment; Tips For Caregivers From Celeb Nutritionist

Cancer treatment: Eating some simple, homemade foods can help in offering relief from distressing side effects of chemotherapy. Rujuta Diwekar explains the do's and don'ts of diet for proper and effective recovery from cancer.

Cancer Treatment: What Patients Need To Eat During And After Treatment; Tips For Caregivers From Celeb Nutritionist

Cancer treatment: Gulkand can help in recovering effectively from cancer


  • Cancer patients should have home-cooked food
  • Caregivers should take care of their health as well
  • Physical activity is important for both cancer patients and caregivers

The period during and after cancer treatment can be quite difficult for patients. It can be tremulous both physically and mentally. Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar believes that eating properly during and after cancer treatment can help in getting relief from acidity, burning sensation and nausea, improve appetite, reduce irritability and much more. Cancer treatment also makes a person become weak and unable to perform day-to-day activities. One feels like lying down all day and yet finds it difficult to sleep at night.

Cancer treatment: Foods to eat during and after treatment to get relief from side effects

In a video shared on Facebook, Diwekar talks about certain foods that cancer patients should eat during and after treatment. These foods can help in getting good sleep and prevent indigestion issues like acidity and constipation.

1. Gulkand

  • Can help in reducing acidity, constipation
  • Improves appetite
  • Induces sleep
  • Improves balance of probiotics in the body (which is often disrupted by intense cancer treatments)

Gulkand is made by combining rose petals and sugar. On times when you are feeling weak and experiencing acidity and burning sensation, have a glass of water mixed with one tsp gulkand. It will reduce acidity and will also reduce the unwillingness to eat.

Also, a tsp of gulkand in milk can help in inducing sleep in cancer patients who find it difficult to sleep at night. Gulkand at night can also help in getting rid of constipation.


Gulkand can help in dealing with acidity, which is a common side effect of cancer treatment
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Stay Away From Acidity And Bloating With This Delicious, Cooling Drink You Can Make At Home

2. Rice and ghee

  • Ensures optimum nutrition
  • Good for recovery from cancer
  • Helps in reducing acidity

Cancer treatment reduces appetite and makes one feel sick immediately after eating. However, it is important to note that nutrition is important for recovery from cancer. You can prepare rice kanji or rice soup. "Nutrition in rice kanji or rice soup is more than nutrition in vegetable soup. This is because rice is a grain which is able to tolerate high temperatures. Thus, the nutrition in rice soup is more than spinach soup or carrot soup," informs Diwekar.

Also, make sure that you add ghee in rice soup. Fats in Ghee helps in assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K from food and supplements.

You can also have dry dal and herbs (metkut) and rice with a dollop of ghee in order to get relief from acidity. This is a meal with complete protein and can give a boost to your energy levels.

3. Home set curd

  • Boosts Vitamin B12 levels
  • Improves haemoglobin (Hb) levels
  • Reduces irritability
  • Reduces weakness
  • Reduces acidity

Curd can help in improving Vitamin B12 and haemoglobin levels. Low haemoglobin levels and Vitamin B12 deficiencies can make cancer patients feel weak and irritable. Curd can be consumed with meals. For kids, add black raisins (4-5) to the curd while setting it. This curd can be eaten as a mid-meal snack as well. It can reduce acidity and is beneficial for the elderly, and women with low Hb levels.


Home-set curd can help in reducing weakness after cancer treatment
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Should You Have Curd In Winter? Know The Benefits And Downsides

4. Buttermilk or chaas

  • Good for intestinal mucosa, lining of the stomach (often gets compromised during cancer treatment)
  • Reduces acidity and burning sensation
  • Nourishes taste buds
  • Replenishes appetite

Make sure you prepare hand-churned chaas. Avoid using spoon or mixture in order to retain the nutrients in buttermilk. Add some kala namak (black salt), jeera (cumin) and hing (asafoetida) in buttermilk.

5. Amla

  • Good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin B12
  • Helps in production of haemoglobin
  • Reduces acidity

You can have amla murabba, amla sherbet or amla pickle.


Amla can help in boosting Vitamin C levels in cancer patients
Photo Credit: iStock

6. Aliv or Garden Cress seeds

  • Improves strength in the body
  • Good source or iron, folic acid
  • Helps in reducing skill dullness and darkening
  • Boosts hair growth

Eat alive laddoos 3-4 days after chemotherapy as it is slightly difficult to digest.

7. Ragi/Nachni

  • Good source of calcium and micro nutrients
  • Helps in reducing headache
  • Reduces mental fog or confusion
  • Reduces weakness in bones

You can have ragi as kheer during cancer treatment, when acidity is high. You can later have a ragi roti or bhakri.

Also read: Follow These Expert Guidelines To Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer

What you should avoid during cancer treatment?

Diwekar recommends that cancer patients must avoid following "Whatsapp diets". Some of them suggest:

1. Have green juices (raw vegetable juices) like wheatgrass, palak, methi, etc) for recovery from cancer. Diwekar asserts that green veggies are healthy but only when you cook them with tadka.

2. Heat coconut water before drinking. Well, you can have coconut water normally, suggests Diwekar, and have them in small quantities.

3. Drink haldi, jeera or ajwain shots: According to the celeb nutritionist, these spices are effective only when consumed in small quantities and as part of cooking. "If we have them in water, they will interfere with nutrient assimilation. Too much haldi will reduce levels of iron as well," writes Diwekar in her post.

4. Fasting: Fasting is the worst thing that you can do for recovery from cancer and after cancer treatment. "Eating on time will make treatment effective and also prevents headaches, irritability and weakness," says Diwekar.

5. Avoid use of plastic in all forms in the kitchen.

6. Use iron vessels for cooking.

Also read: Rujuta Diwekar's Golden Rules For A Cleaner, Healthier Kitchen

Cancer treatment: What caregivers should do

Caregivers play an important role in helping cancer patients recover. They need to acknowledge that they are indeed doing a difficult job. Diwekar recommends that they need not pressurise themselves.

1. It is important for caregivers to take care of their health by eating three proper meals every day.

2. Do not go to the hospital on an empty stomach. You can have a fresh fruit or simple homemade breakfast.

3. Have lunch between 12 to 1 pm and do not delay it till 3 to 4 pm.

4. Have a wholesome meal between 4 to 6 pm. It can help in bringing down cortisol, the stress hormone.

Also read: Try These Foods And Drinks To Get Rid Of Stress And Anxiety

5. Carry a roti with ghee and jaggery when you are accompanying the patient for treatment. Dal rice (with tadka) is also a good option.

6. Do take out time for exercise. This is important for both patients and caregivers. Caregivers can do 2-3 surya namaskars every day.


Caregivers of cancer patients can do 2-3 surya namaskars in a day to stay active and exercise
Photo Credit: iStock

All in all, eating well is an important part of recovery from cancer. It makes treatment more effective and reduces the side effects of cancer treatment procedures.

(Rujuta Diwekar is a nutritionist based in Mumbai)

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.