Staying healthy after cancer: eat a healthy diet
A balanced diet
Some healthy eating guidelines
- Limit foods and drinks such as cakes, sweets, biscuits and soft drinks as these are high in fat, sugar and salt.
- Prepare and cook your meals using fresh ingredients. Avoid ready meals and takeaways in general.
- Always read the nutrition label: check for high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Looking carefully at food labels can help you to make better choices. Safefood has produced this booklet of guidelines to help you.
- Eat a variety of 5 or more of different coloured fruit and vegetables every day.
- Eat wholegrain breads, high fibre cereals, potatoes, wholewheat pasta and brown rice to satisfy hunger and fuel your body.
- Choose healthier cooking methods, like steaming, grilling, baking, roasting and stir-frying instead of frying foods.
- Eat more fish, especially oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, at least once a week.
- Choose lower-fat milks, low-fat yoghurts and yoghurt drinks and reduced-fat cheese.
- Choose vegetable oils high in monounsaturated fats such as rapeseed or olive oil.
- Drink about 8‒10 glasses of fluid every day. Water is best.
- Enjoy 3 meals a day sitting at a table, away from the TV, phone or computer screen. Eat slowly and chew your food properly.
- Make time for breakfast – you are more likely to be a healthy weight.
- Drink alcohol sensibly within recommended limits and preferably with meals.
- If you eat a healthy balanced diet, there is no need to take food supplements, unless advised by your doctor.
See our page on the 5 fundamentals of healthy eating for lots more information and top tips for eating your way to good health.
Building yourself up after cancer treatment
- Make the most of your appetite when it is good.
- Take nourishing snacks high in calories and full of protein.
- Take snacks about every 2–3 hours. Do not skip meals.
- Add calories to food. See our Diet and Cancer booklet for suggestions.
- Avoid drinking liquids before meals.
- Take only small sips at mealtimes, as fluids may make you full.
- Do not put too much food on your plate. It can be offputting if your appetite is small.
- Try nutritional supplements when you find it hard to eat food.
- Keep snacks handy. Try cheese and crackers, sandwiches, muffins or scones.
- Take special high-calorie drinks to help keep your strength up. Your doctor can give you a prescription for these drinks.
- Encourage your family to eat together and make mealtimes relaxing and enjoyable
Losing weight after cancer treatment
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Juice your vegetables if you prefer.
- Eat wholegrain starchy foods like brown bread, pasta, potatoes (with skins), high-fibre breakfast cereals and brown rice, so you feel full. Try to choose the high-fibre varieties.
- Choose lean meat (beef or pork without the fat, skinless chicken).
- Take low-fat dairy products like low-fat milk or diet yoghurt.
- Avoid sweets, biscuits and cakes, and snacks between meals.
- Avoid fried foods. Grill or steam your food instead.
- Get more exercise, if possible.
- Talk to your dietitian if you are worried about the amount of weight gained.
- Don’t diet without getting the advice of your doctor or nurse first.
- Limit the amount of salt you take, if advised by your doctor or nurse.
- Only take water pills (diuretics) prescribed by your doctor.
- ½ pint of beer, lager, cider or stout
- 1 measure of spirits
- A small glass of wine
On the next page you can find out more about getting fit and being physically active.