Breast cancer is a complex condition that comes with several contributing factors. Factors including age, family history, genetics, and gender are invariable and not within an individual’s control. But a person can regulate certain factors like smoking, physical activity, body weight, and eating habits. Even studies have revealed that dietary factors are responsible for about 30-40% of all cancers.

A person’s dietary choices and eating practices can make a huge difference to their risk of developing breast cancer and their overall health while living with the condition.
Breast cancer diet

Nutritional Management Of Breast Cancer

Healthy eating habits are essential during and after cancer treatment. A diet regimen based on plant foods along with regular exercise will help patients maintain healthy body weight, and strength and lessen the impacts of side effects both during and after treatment.

The main goal of nutrition therapy in patients with advanced breast cancer is to offer the patients a good quality of life and regulate symptoms that cause hardship.

Foods To Eat

With breast cancer, you’re most likely to undergo chemotherapy, and hormone therapy or are taking HER2 -targeted drugs. Treatments mostly depend on the type and stage of cancer, and you may also need radiation. There are various side effects of treatment, and loss of appetite is one among them.

Though it can be tough to eat, making a healthy food choice can help the body nourish the brain as you keep combatting the disease.

Also Read: 5 Must Have Phytonutrients In Your Diet Regimen For Amazing Health -Infographic


Eating foods that contain certain plant compounds known as phytochemicals may help the body combat cancer remarkably. These compounds are chiefly present in plant-based foods. Find the below table on the types of vegetables and fruits to include and the phytonutrients they contain:



Food Sources

Carotenoids or beta carotene

Avert the growth of malignant tumours and reduces the negative effects of chemotherapy

Yellow, orange, and green leafy fruits and vegetables (like carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, and musk melons


These foods help in stopping the growth of breast cancer cells

Broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower


They help avert tumour cell growth and metastasis and there are five types of flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, stilbenes, and other polyphenols.

Berries, herbs and spices, nuts, flaxseeds, vegetables, and olive oils


Dietary Guidelines To Manage Treatment Side Effects

Generally, side effects of cancer treatment can impede normal eating behaviours, thus modifications in diet should be made to help the patients meet the demands of nutrients they need. It is vital to have foods that are high in calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Also, meals should be planned to meet nutritional needs and tastes.

Also Read: Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020: Here’s What You Should Eat & Avoid To Beat This Lethal Carcinoma

Here’s a guide on what you can eat or do to help mitigate the side effects of cancer treatment.

Anorexia/Loss of Appetite

To manage anorexia is essential to eat foods that are a good source of protein which include:

  • Lentils and beans
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Lean meat
  • You should have protein-dense foods first in your meal when your appetite is good.
  • Sip minimal amounts of fluids during meals
  • Include milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups if you do not feel to eat solid foods
  • Eat foods with good aroma and flavour.
  • Try new recipes and foods
  • Eat small, frequent meals and 2-3 nutritious snacks
  • Eat the heaviest meal when you feel hungry, whether at breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • Try to be active as possible so that you will have a good appetite


If you experience nausea, then try to eat more foods that are cool or at room temperature as they don’t give a strong aroma. Also, it may help you to eat low-fat foods, as fat takes a longer time to digest. Never skip meals completely if you have nausea, as being on an empty stomach can aggravate nausea. Instead, pay attention to small bites of food throughout the day. Follow these tips to manage nausea

  • Eat foods that are bland, soft, and easy-to-digest
  • Have dry foods like crackers, bread sticks, or toast
  • Have foods that are light on the stomach like bread toast, plain yogurt, and clear soup or broth
  • Slowly sip fluids throughout the day
  • Chew candies like peppermints or lemon drops or ginger, or mint if you experience a bad taste
  • Avoid heavy and strong aromas in food and drink
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals every day instead of 3 large ones
  • Rinse your mouth before and after eating.
  • Sit up or lie down with your head elevated for at least an hour after eating


Vomiting is one of the common side effects of breast cancer treatment due to the drugs and chemotherapy, following these simple tips can help you control vomiting:

  • Do not eat or drink anything until the vomiting stops
  • Drink small amounts of clear fluids once the vomiting settles
  • Have 5 or 6 small meals every day instead of 3 large ones


To manage constipation patients should include:

  • Plenty of fibre-rich foods and increased fluid intake
  • Engage in low-intensity walking
  • Have warm beverages to regularise bowel movements

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can hurt and feel unpleasant. Following these measures can help patients control mouth sores, which include:

  • Eat soft, bland foods that are easy to chew like milkshakes, scrambled eggs, and custards
  • Suck on ice cubes to soothe your mouth
  • Eat foods cold or at room temperature
  • Use a straw to move liquid over the painful parts of your mouth

Avoid The Following:

  • Citrus foods, such as oranges, lemons, and sweet limes
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes and ketchup
  • Salty foods
  • Raw vegetables
  • Sharp and crunchy foods
  • Do not use tobacco products


Most people experience fatigue when they’re not eating properly or losing weight during treatment. To overcome fatigue and stay active throughout the day:

  • Choose high-protein snacks
  • Have small frequent meals rather than large meals
  • Drink plenty of fluids and have energy-dense foods to maintain fuel reserves

Weight Gain

It's quite common for women who have undergone chemotherapy to gain weight over a period. The use of corticosteroids prescribed to ease nausea, and swelling, or avert reactions to chemotherapy are some of the reasons for weight gain. To prevent weight gain, follow these dietary modifications:

  • Have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eat foods that are loaded with dietary fibre like whole-grain cereals, millet, brown bread, etc.
  • Prefer lean source of meat
  • Have low-fat milk products.
  • Choose healthy cooking methods like broiling, steaming, grilling, or roasting.
  • Limit salt intake
  • Eat only when hungry
  • Get involved in a mild form of exercise daily


It is best to discuss the side effects that affect your ability to eat well with a dietitian who would help to customize your nutrition requirement and plan a diet regimen as per your needs.