Eating a Balanced Diet Can Help You Cope with Cancer and its Treatments

How Eating well helps

Eating and drinking a balanced diet when having cancer is important. It helps you to cope with cancer and its treatments. A balanced diet means eating foods from all the food groups that your body needs.

But for many people with cancer, eating and drinking well can be a struggle. Up to 40 out of every 100 people (40%) have unplanned weight loss when diagnosed with cancer. Unplanned weight loss can affect your quality of life.

Eating and drinking a balanced diet can help your body to:

  • cope with treatment side effects
  • handle the best dose of certain treatments to treat your cancer
  • recover and heal faster
  • fight off infections
  • feel stronger, healthier and have more energy

So, eating and drinking well can help you to cope better and recover faster. This could improve your chance of survival.

A balanced diet, with plenty of calories, also helps your immune system to work well. A healthy immune system can help you to fight off infections and kill cancer cells.

A balanced diet

Try to eat foods from all food groups to include everything your body needs to work well. These include:

  • beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
  • potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
  • fruit and vegetables
  • oil and spreads (fats)
  • milk, yoghurt and cheese (dairy products)

The diagram below is of a plate of food. Each slice shows how much of that food group should be on your plate to follow a healthy balanced diet. This guidance is from Public Health England (PHE).

A balanced diet can help to reduce your risk of chronic diseases. If you have problems that are affecting your diet, your doctor or healthcare professional may suggest that you change the amounts you eat from each group.