During chemotherapy, you have no appetite. So doctors usually advise that you eat anything; whether it is something healthy or not, all what they care about is that you EAT. Well, from my experience, what you eat plays an important role. Why? Well the worst thing that you experience during chemotherapy is constipation. You really want to use the bathroom everyday to get out all those chemicals out of your system. And if you don’t, they are just swimming in there enjoying the attack on your healthy, good cells. So it is very important that you are always hydrated during chemo (2 – 3 L of water per day) and you eat well so you avoid constipation. And based on what my doctor and the nurses told me, most patients undergoing chemo experience constipation. Because of the diet I was following, I had a very good digestion, and had no problem whatsoever with constipation. Also, I would have small meals and make sure to eat every 2 hours. That is why I truly believe that what you eat and the amount of food you eat are 2 important things to be looked at. In the end, you control what goes in your body, and your body controls what goes out, so choose wisely.

So basically, 1 month prior to starting chemo I switched to a healthy lifestyle. I stopped eating out, I was having lots of salads, brown rice, brown pasta, all sort of grilled stuff, steamed vegetables .. you name it! And I was stuffing myself with fruits, especially those that end in “berries”, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I stopped having coffee (I was a coffee-holic!!), although it is okay to have 1 mug a day but I was trying to unhook myself to it because I could not have one during chemo, and I also stopped eating dairy products. And of course I tried as much as I can to buy everything organic. Also, switching to dark chocolate is good. It is very easy to adapt to this lifestyle in the States, as all sort of organic stuff are widely available (just go to Whole Foods Market), unlike in Lebanon, you don’t usually find all the organic things you are looking for.

Now starting chemo, every time I go to the center I usually have with me an apple, and a smoothie (check out the recipe page for the smoothie recipe). This really gives me energy and is neutral for my appetite. I look around me as I wait, and I see people eating pancakes, hamburgers, hot dogs, … I mean, SERIOUSLY? Why? And they’re not even home-made!!! This used to make me lose my appetite even more. Anyway, what you really need to avoid during chemo are the following:
1) fruits that are acidic: oranges, pineapples, mandarines. I had an orange on one day and a pineapple on another day and I had a feeling of “throwing up” for 2 days and a feeling as if the food is stuck in my throat. Well turned out it was from the acidity in the fruits. Also if you are suffering from mouth sores, you definitely wanna avoid that.
2) Milk, especially on the days where you have sessions. Milk basically increases nausea and during chemo you feel nauseous (although they stuff you with anti-nausea medications) but you might as well just avoid the things that increase nausea.
3) Coffee, why? Well it is very important that you keep yourself hydrated during chemo and for me it was very difficult to swallow water, and coffee makes you de-hydrated so just avoid it unless you wanna double the amount of water you drink.
4) Spicy food, same reason as the fruits.
5) Sushi (basically anything raw): during chemo, your immunity is lower than the usual and raw meat might have bacteria, so just be safe and avoid it.
6) Fried foods, not only that it is unhealthy but they are not very easy to digest.
7) Eating out, who knows what goes on in the kitchen? Hygiene makes a difference so try to avoid eating out as much as you can especially on the days when you have sessions.

When experiencing the side-effects, and these mainly include nausea and loss of appetite, it is very important that you do not eat your favorite food so you don’t develop aversion to it later on. Soups are a good option as they are easy to swallow and digest. Also during this stage, the number 1 question I hated most was: what do you want to eat? Or what do you feel like eating? So whoever is taking care of your meals, make sure to tell them not to ask you these questions.

When your white blood cells count decreases, this means your immune system is low. When this happens, you should avoid salads, raw meats, and fruits that are eaten without being peeled (grapes, cherries, blueberries, …; stick to bananas, mangos, watermelon …). Avoid crowded places, and make sure to wear a mask and wash your hands very often, use hand sanitizer, and wear gloves if you’re going out.

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