Foods to Avoid While on Chemo

cancer and chemotherapy dietary restrictions

If you're undergoing chemotherapy, it's crucial to be aware of the foods you should steer clear of. Certain foods can interact with your treatment and worsen side effects.

In this article, we'll guide you through the foods to avoid while on chemo. From acidic fruits to high-fat and fried foods, we'll provide evidence-based insights to help you make informed choices and support your overall well-being during treatment.

Stay informed, stay healthy.

Acidic and Citrus Fruits

Avoid consuming too many acidic and citrus fruits while undergoing chemotherapy as they can irritate your digestive system and worsen side effects.

When it comes to managing potential side effects of chemotherapy, dietary modifications play a crucial role. While fruits are generally considered a healthy part of your diet, certain types can be problematic during this time.

Acidic fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, can cause irritation in your stomach, esophagus, and mouth. This can lead to discomfort, heartburn, and even mouth sores. Citrus fruits, in particular, contain high levels of citric acid, which can further exacerbate these issues.

Moreover, the acidic nature of these fruits can interfere with the absorption of certain chemotherapy drugs. This can affect the effectiveness of your treatment.

It's important to note that not all chemotherapy regimens have the same dietary restrictions. Therefore, it's essential to consult with your healthcare team to determine which specific fruits you should avoid. They can provide you with personalized guidance based on your treatment plan and individual needs.

In the meantime, you can still enjoy a variety of other fruits that are less acidic, such as bananas, melons, and berries. Remember, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for your overall well-being during chemotherapy.

Raw or Undercooked Seafood

If you're undergoing chemotherapy, it's important to be cautious about consuming raw or undercooked seafood, as it can pose potential health risks and worsen side effects.

When seafood is properly cooked, it can provide several health benefits. Cooked seafood is an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for repairing cells and maintaining muscle mass during cancer treatment. Additionally, seafood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

However, if you're unable to consume raw or undercooked seafood, there are alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids that you can include in your diet. These include flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and fortified foods like eggs or milk. It's important to discuss these alternatives with your healthcare team to ensure that they're suitable for your specific dietary needs.

High-Fat and Fried Foods

To continue your journey through the foods to avoid while on chemo, it's crucial to steer clear of high-fat and fried foods. While these foods may be tempting, they can have negative effects on your overall health and well-being during chemotherapy. High-fat foods, such as fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, and processed snacks, can contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease. Fried foods, on the other hand, are often high in unhealthy trans fats, which can also raise your cholesterol levels and lead to inflammation in the body.

When undergoing chemotherapy, it's important to prioritize your nutrition and choose chemo-friendly recipes that are low in fat. Instead of frying your food, opt for baking, grilling, or steaming methods of cooking. This will help to retain the nutrients in your food while reducing the amount of added fat. Try incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your meals. These foods aren't only low in fat but also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your immune system and overall health.

Processed and Cured Meats

Steering away from high-fat and fried foods, it's important to be cautious of processed and cured meats while undergoing chemotherapy. These types of meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli meats. While they may be convenient and tasty, they can have a negative impact on your cancer treatment outcomes.

Processed and cured meats are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and preservatives such as nitrites and nitrates. These substances have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and can potentially interfere with the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Studies have shown that consuming large amounts of processed meats can lead to a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

Instead of processed and cured meats, opt for healthier alternatives during your chemotherapy treatment. Choose lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, and tofu. These options are lower in fat and sodium, and provide essential nutrients that can support your immune system and overall health.

Additionally, incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your diet can further enhance the effectiveness of your treatment.

Alcohol and Caffeine

While avoiding processed and cured meats, it's important for you to also be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake while undergoing chemotherapy. Both alcohol and caffeine can have negative effects on your body during this time, and reducing or avoiding them can have significant health benefits.

Alcohol can interfere with the way your body processes chemotherapy drugs, making them less effective. It can also weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infections. Additionally, alcohol can cause dehydration, which is already a common side effect of chemotherapy.

Caffeine, on the other hand, can exacerbate symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, and anxiety, all of which are already common side effects of chemotherapy.

To maintain a healthier lifestyle during chemotherapy, it's best to find alternatives to alcohol and caffeine. Instead of alcohol, try herbal teas or flavored water for a refreshing beverage. As for caffeine, consider switching to decaffeinated versions of your favorite drinks or opting for herbal teas that provide relaxation and comfort without the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Still Consume Acidic and Citrus Fruits While on Chemotherapy?

Yes, you can still consume acidic and citrus fruits while on chemotherapy. However, it is important to note that these fruits may have an effect on the effectiveness of chemotherapy. A low acid diet may be beneficial during this time.

Is It Safe to Eat Raw or Undercooked Seafood During Chemotherapy?

It's important to prioritize your health during chemotherapy. Raw or undercooked seafood may not be safe as it can harbor harmful bacteria. Cooking seafood thoroughly ensures you reap its benefits while minimizing the risk of infection.

Why Should High-Fat and Fried Foods Be Avoided During Chemotherapy?

During chemotherapy, it is recommended to avoid high-fat and fried foods. These foods can contribute to inflammation, which can promote cancer progression. A low-fat diet has been shown to have benefits in cancer management.

What Types of Processed and Cured Meats Should I Avoid While Undergoing Chemotherapy?

To maintain a balanced diet during chemotherapy, it is important to avoid processed and cured meats. Instead, opt for lean proteins like chicken or fish. Incorporating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help support your health during treatment.

Can I Consume Alcohol and Caffeine in Moderation While on Chemotherapy?

In moderation, you can consume alcohol and caffeine while on chemotherapy. However, it's important to consider the safety and impact on your treatment. Consult with your healthcare team for personalized advice.


In conclusion, while undergoing chemotherapy, it's important to avoid certain foods that may worsen side effects or interact with treatment.

These include acidic and citrus fruits, raw or undercooked seafood, high-fat and fried foods, processed and cured meats, as well as alcohol and caffeine.

To support their treatment and overall well-being during this challenging time, patients should follow dietary guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional.