Diet

If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumour, a balanced diet could help you keep your strength and energy up, lower your risk of infection and help you recover well from treatment.

Download our factsheet about diet and brain tumours. The factsheet contains information about healthy diets, what to eat when recovering from treatment, diets and brain tumours and who to see about your diet.

Managing your diet when recovering from treatment

Below is a list of diet-related side-effects of cancer treatments and some common suggestions on how to manage these side-effects. This list is not exhaustive, if you are experiencing other food related side-effects, discuss them with your doctor or dietitian who can assist you further.

Too tired to eat

If you are too tired to cook or eat you could:

  • try having six smaller meals per day rather than three larger ones.
  • use snacks, ready made meals and puddings to reduce the burden of cooking.
  • ask friends or family members to cook dishes in bulk and freeze portions so you can have them ready to defrost whenever you need to.
  • ask your doctor or dietitian to recommend nutritious food supplements such as shakes

Feeling sick

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy can cause nausea as a side-effect. Your doctor can give you anti-emetic medication which can help you manage this. If you are having trouble eating because of nausea, you can try to:

  • eat smaller meals more often, rather than large meals further apart
  • eat dry foods, like crackers, toast, dry cereals or bread sticks, when you wake up and every few hours during the day
  • avoid foods or rooms with strong odours
  • avoid hot or spicy foods
  • avoid foods that are overly sweet, greasy or fried
  • remain seated upright for at least an hour after eating
  • avoid drinking with meals
  • eat bland, soft, easy-to-digest foods on treatment days such as egg custards and soup with crackers.
  • avoid eating your favourite foods until you feel well enough to enjoy them

Constipation

These are some common suggestions for how to ease or prevent constipation:

  • eating foods which are high in fibre (e.g. wholegrain food, fresh fruit
    and vegetables)
  • drink plenty of water
  • try to do some gentle exercise

Taste changes

Treatments such as chemotherapy can sometimes affect your senses of taste and smell. People have often described a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth. Below are some suggestions on how to make your eating experience more enjoyable:

  • rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth frequently
  • using plastic cutlery helps to deal with the metallic sensation
  • eating fresh food instead of tinned
  • seasoning foods with flavours such as lemon, vinegar, and pickles. (Avoid if you have a sore mouth)
  • adding herbs and spices, such as garlic, chilli, basil, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, coriander or mint to your dishes

Big appetite due to medicines

A side-effect of steroids is to increase appetite significantly, and maintaining a healthy weight might become more difficult.

  • eating foods which are high in protein and fibre can keep you fuller for longer
  • avoid foods which are high in saturated fats or trans-fatty acids as much as possible

The list of food related side-effects addressed above is not exhaustive. If these side-effects get worse or if you are experiencing other food related side-effects of treatment, discuss them with your doctor or a registered dietitian who can assist you further.

Download our factsheet about diet and brain tumours

Page last reviewed: 02/2016

Next review due: 02/2019

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