Nutrition & Healthy Eating

Maintaining a healthy diet after your cancer treatment is complete can have many benefits. In fact, there is strong evidence that a plant-based diet cuts the risk of cancer (and cancer recurrence) overall. A varied diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts contains many cancer-fighting ingredients. These foods provide antioxidants and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that can help prevent cancer. They help by protecting your cells from damage, keeping your immune system strong, and reducing inflammation.

In addition to eating a plant-based diet, achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight is also very important. There is evidence that being obese or overweight, which is a risk factor for numerous types of cancer, also increases the chance of recurrence and lowers odds for survival.

Experts recommend that cancer survivors follow these guidelines for a healthy diet and a healthy weight:

  • Eat a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. A serving can be a cup of leafy greens or berries, a medium fruit, or a half cup of other colorful choices; use plant-based seasonings like parsley, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon.
  • Choose whole grains. Consider high-fiber breads and cereals, including brown rice, barley, bulgur, and oats; avoid refined foods, such as donuts and white bread, and those high in sugar.
  • Choose lean protein. Eat fish, white meat poultry, and organic tofu while limiting red meat and processed meats. Select skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced-fat cheeses. Try plant-based milk alternatives like almond and oat milks.
  • Aim for a variety of foods. Create a balanced plate that is one-half cooked or raw vegetables, one-fourth lean protein (chicken, fish, lean meat, or dairy) and one-fourth whole grains.
  • Cut back on animal fats like butter and replace with heart healthy fats and oils from olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been linked to cancer risk. Men should have no more than two drinks a day; women should have no more than one drink; women with a history of breast cancer should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than 2 to 3 drinks per week.
  • To help achieve a healthy weight, watch your portion sizes, make mindful eating decisions, boost your activity level, and if you need more support and accountability, seek the help of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
  • And remember, food, not supplements, are the best source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients with anti-cancer benefits. Talk to a dietitian about whether taking dietary supplements is recommended for you.

Additional Healthy Eating Resources

The following have been identified as informative, factual supplemental resources by the Nutritionists at our Integrative Wellness Center.