Key Points

  • There is no prescribed diet plan for someone with lung cancer.
  • Your nutritional needs during lung cancer will change.
  • Some foods can affect your lung cancer symptoms by making them worse or better.

Take action

Sometimes finding the right diet during treatment to get proper nutrition during lung cancer is a trial and error process. Talk to your doctor if you would like to see a nutritionist or registered dietician for nutritional guidance when you have lung cancer.

Each person’s nutritional needs during lung cancer are different. They are based on your lung cancer treatment plan, your current height and weight and any other illnesses you may have like diabetes or heart disease.

Here are some nutritional goals to keep in mind as you are facing lung cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. For some people this may mean eating enough calories to avoid weight loss and for others it may mean safely losing weight. Your doctor can help you determine your healthy weight.
  • Get essential nutrients the body needs. These are protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.
  • Avoid foods that make your lung cancer treatment side effects worse. Certain foods worsen diarrhea, constipation and mouth sores.

Here are some tips on how to make sure you safely get all of your nutrients when you have lung cancer:

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Getting help meeting your nutritional goals and learning what to eat during lung cancer treatment

Sometimes you or your caregiver might be too tired to shop or cook. Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, coworkers and neighbors to help prepare meals or do the grocery shopping for you. Most people you know want to help. They just don’t know how and don’t want to intrude. You can use resources like My Fighting for Air Community to help organize volunteers.

You also may want to seek out the expertise of a registered dietician or nutritionist for lung cancer patients. This person is trained to advise people on what to eat to meet their dietary needs. Your doctor can refer you to specialist with experience in the dietary needs of people with lung cancer.

General Guidelines
for Food Safety

When you are receiving treatment for lung cancer, your immune system may not be at its best. You are at a greater risk of infection. Make sure you follow these general guidelines when preparing your food:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly
  • Use special care in handling raw meats, fish, poultry and eggs
  • Clean anything that has touched raw meat
  • Cook to proper temperatures and drink pasteurized beverages
  • Store foods promptly at low temperatures to minimize bacterial growth (below 40F)
  • Avoid foods that may have potential bacterial contamination such as salad bars, sushi or undercooked meat
  • Contact your local health department if you are worried about water purity

What are
bland foods?

A bland diet is made up of foods that are soft, not very spicy and low in fiber. Here are some examples:

  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Cooked, canned or  frozen vegetables (not raw)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Cooked or canned fruit with the skin and seeds removed, like applesauce, canned peaches or bananas
  • Breads, crackers and pasta made with refined white flour
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal and cream of wheat
  • Poultry, lean fish and shellfish that are steamed, baked or grilled with no added fat
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Pudding and custard
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Soup, especially broth
  • Weak tea