Frozen fruit pops and a bowl of strawberries on top of a cutting board. 15 Best Recipes for People with Breast Cancer

If you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment, it might be very difficult to eat your normal way.

The Cancer disease can make you feel too weak to for food stuffs shopping, not to talk of cooking. Some kinds of breast cancer treatments can also cause nausea, low appetite, and even a sore mouth.

Although, eating a good balanced diet is very important especially when you have a serious disease like that of breast cancer. Getting enough nutrients can as well as boost your energy levels and aid your body in the healing process or treatment process.

When you are diagnosed of breast cancer and ypou are undergoing treatment, you might not always have the urge or see the need to spend some time in the kitchen — and that’s normal. You may be able to arrange for food delivery from a professional service or ask loved ones to pitch in.

But when you’re feeling well enough to cook, here are some specific recipes that can help you adjust to certain challenges of breast cancer.

Recipes to try if you’re feeling nauseous from treatment

Baked oatmeal, 15 Best Recipes for People with Breast Cancer

Nausea is a common side effect of many chemotherapy meds. You may find it easier to eat several small meals, rather than a few big meals, made from simple ingredients throughout the day.

A classic baked potato, for example, could be a tolerable small meal when you’re feeling nauseous.

Here are some other recipes to try when you have nausea:

  • Chicken rice soup. This classic soup is easy to digest and comforting with mild flavors. This recipe makes a big enough batch for leftovers to freeze.
  • Lemon smoothie. The tart smell and taste of lemon in this smoothie may be helpful for nausea. Plus, it might be easier to sip a nutrient-rich beverage rather than chew food.
  • Baked oatmeal. The soft texture and flavors of this oatmeal may make eating more tolerable when you’re feeling sick.

Severe nausea can make it very difficult to eat an adequate amount of food. If you’re regularly coping with this symptom, get in touch with your cancer care team. They may be able to prescribe medications to ease nausea.

Here are some other tips for eating when you’re feeling nauseous from cancer treatment:

  • Try bland, simple foods that don’t have strong smells.
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat or spicy.
  • Sniffing fresh lemon, sipping ginger ale, or chewing ginger candies may help.
  • Eat in a comfortable place that isn’t too hot or stuffy.

Recipes for when you have a low appetite

Many people with breast cancer have changes in their appetite. You may not be interested in eating or find yourself feeling full more quickly than usual.

It’s important to find ways to adjust to a low appetite, though. Giving your body the nutrients it needs is important when going through treatment and coping with the stress of an illness.

Here are some tips to help with low appetite:

  • Set a timer to remind yourself to eat every few hours.
  • Make food more appealing by adding sauces, oils, cheese, or dressings. This can help boost flavor, calories, and nutrients.
  • Go for a walk or get some fresh air to see if this helps to boost your appetite.
  • Make meals more pleasant by eating with someone or while watching your favorite show.
  • Consider smoothies or shakes if drinking feels easier than eating.
Coconut banana muffins, 15 Best Recipes for People with Breast Cancer

Here are some recipes with plenty of calories and protein to help you make the most of each meal:

  • High protein mac ‘n’ cheese. Cheese, milk, and Greek yogurt make this mac ’n’ cheese a protein-packed meal. This recipe has several optional add-ins, so you can customize it to your liking.
  • High protein blueberry smoothie. Try sipping this smoothie throughout the day for some extra nutrition.
  • Coconut banana muffins. There are plenty of nutrients in these muffins, which freeze well for a quick snack. Smear on some peanut butter to boost the protein content.

Recipes that can help you eat more fruit and veggies

Research suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables may improve survival outlook in people with breast cancer.

Fruit salad, 15 Best Recipes for People with Breast Cancer

Here are some recipes that star fruits or vegetables:

  • Veggie soup. Use whatever vegetables you have around to put together this simple recipe.
  • Grilled fruit salad. This is a bright and sweet way to make a meal of fresh fruit.
  • Fruit popsicles. These fruit pops make a good-for-you frozen snack.

Here are some other tips for adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet:

  • Wash and chop vegetables and fruit ahead of time so they’re ready to eat.
  • Add extra veggies to pasta or rice dishes.
  • Frozen vegetables and fruit eliminate the need for washing or chopping, so they can be helpful to keep on hand.

Recipes for when your mouth is sore from chemo

Smoothie bowl, 15 Best Recipes for People with Breast Cancer

One common side effect of chemotherapy is a sore mouth or throat, which can make it hard to eat. Damage to cells in those parts can cause discomfort, but it usually goes away after you finish treatments.

If you have a sore mouth, you may find it easier to eat soft, textured foods that aren’t too acidic or spicy. It may also be helpful to cut food into small, bite-sized pieces and use sauces or gravies to soften your foods.

Here are some recipes to try if you have a sore mouth during breast cancer treatments:

  • Smoothie bowl. This is a simple smoothie bowl without any citrus, which can be irritating. If the consistency is still too much, you can add more liquid and drink it with a straw.
  • Muffin tin eggs. This recipe comes in three different versions, so you can make a version with flavors you love. Depending on how your mouth feels, you can keep the recipe even simpler, with just eggs and cheese.
  • Butternut squash soup. This soup is creamy and smooth with a mild flavor. Like most soups and stews, it freezes well.

Recipes for cancer-related fatigue

Cancer-related fatigue is not your everyday kind of fatigue. This is the completely-out-of-energy kind of tired that makes it hard to do anything. When you’re this exhausted, it can be difficult to eat enough food, let alone buy and prepare ingredients.

Here are some tips for managing meals when you’re dealing with fatigue:

  • When friends ask how they can help, be ready with a grocery list or meal requests.
  • Arrange for grocery or meal delivery service.
  • Consider using a slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook in a hands-off way.
  • Fill your pantry with grab-and-go, nutrient-packed snacks, such as fruit or crackers with nut butter, to munch on when you’re not feeling up to cooking.
Chicken pasta bake, 15 Best Recipes for People with Breast Cancer

When you’re feeling energized, consider making big batches of meals that you can freeze and reheat at a later date. Here are some breast cancer-friendly freezable recipes:

  • Lentil stew. Recommended as part of the Mediterranean diet, lentils are a great source of protein and fiber.
  • Chicken pasta bake. This mildly flavored casserole is a wonderful comfort food. Consider skipping the chili flakes if your mouth is sore.
  • Turkey black bean chili. This recipe could not be easier — just put everything into your slow cooker and let it be.

Diet and breast cancer

Research into the role of diet and breast cancer outcomes has shed light on some potential eating patterns that may be helpful, although further study is needed.

Protein

A 2016 study, which looked at more than 6,300 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1976 and 2004, found that higher protein intake was linked to slightly higher chances of survival.

It may also be helpful to increase the amount of protein in your diet during cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society. The nutrient plays and important role in repairing body tissue and fighting infection.

Sources of protein include:

  • meat, chicken, goat, lamb, turkey, and fish
  • eggs
  • milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • soy products, including soy beverages, tofu, and tempeh
  • beans, peas, and lentils
  • nuts including almonds, pecans, peanuts, and cashews
  • seeds including flax, pumpkin, hemp, and chia
  • peanut butter and other nut butters

Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet may be beneficial for people with breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet is rich in:

  • healthy fats from sources such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, olive oil, and fish
  • a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • learn proteins, such as chicken, turkey, fish
  • beans, peas, and lentils
  • whole grains including barley, rice, wheat, buckwheat, and oats

In 2020, a study looked at the outcomes of nearly 1,500 women in Italy who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1990s. It found that those who closely followed the Mediterranean diet had a 63 percent chance of surviving for 15 years after receiving the diagnosis. Those who didn’t follow that eating pattern closely had a 54 percent chance of a 15-year survival.

Another 2020 study on 309 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer within the previous 12 months found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a higher health-related quality of life. This included higher levels of physical functioning, fewer pain symptoms, and improvements in overall well-being.

Best foods for breast cancer

It’s not clear whether eating a specific diet can improve outcomes for everyone with breast cancer. However, a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is usually linked with better results than an eating pattern that includes lots of refined sugars, red meats, and processed meats, per the American Cancer Society.

A balanced diet may include:

  • Grains. This includes rice, pasta, quinoa, teff, bulgar, buckwheat, oats, and wheat.
  • Lean proteins. This includes chicken, fish, soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and eggs.
  • Dairy and non-dairy alternatives. This includes yogurt, cheese, and milk, as well as plant-based alternative milks made from almond, soy, or oats.
  • Fruits. Choose a variety of fruits, including fresh, frozen, dried, or canned types.
  • Vegetables. Eat a rainbow of colors from this group, whether they are fresh, frozen, or canned.

For a diet to work well, it shouldn’t only focus on the essential nutrients — it should also include foods you enjoy. So make sure you incorporate your favorite foods that you eat simply because they taste good and feel nourishing in your body, as well.

Takeaway

It can be tricky to eat when you have breast cancer. Cancer-related fatigue can leave you without enough energy to go grocery shopping or cook. Cancer treatment can also cause a sore mouth and nausea, both of which can make mealtimes a challenge.

Certain recipes, like smoothie bowls, freezable soups, and mild comfort foods, can help make eating a little easier when you’re living with breast cancer.

Keep in mind that there’s no one diet that’s best for people with breast cancer. Consider focusing on a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as other foods you eat simply for enjoyment.

If you need more support, get in touch with a registered dietitian or your cancer care team, or both, for more personalized recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Breast cancer-related effects of eating bananas, One 2009 study of Chinese women found that banana consumption was associated with lower risk of breast cancer. As noted above, bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, which has been reported in some studies to be inversely associated with breast cancer risk.
You may also want to avoid certain fruits based on your symptoms. For example, citrus fruits may irritate mouth sores and worsen the feeling of dry mouth. Lastly, whole fruits like apples, apricots, and pears are hard for some people with cancer to eat due to mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, or nausea.
The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day, limiting red and processed meats, and choosing whole-grain instead of refined-grain foods. A healthy breakfast focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins.
100% whole grain bread (wheat or rye) appears to be a better choice for breast cancer patients and survivors since it is a good source of chemopreventive dietary fiber, as well as compounds sucb as ferulic acid, niacin, selenium and vitamin B6.
“Cancer-fighting foods”, The list is usually topped with berries, broccoli, tomatoes, walnuts, grapes and other vegetables, fruits and nuts. “If you look at the typical foods that reduce cancer risk, it’s pretty much all plant foods that contain phytochemicals,” says Wohlford.
Oats in diet, a Danish study found that high consumption of oats (oatmeal, muesli) before diagnosis was associated with lower all-cause mortality in women with breast cancer. However, not all studies have found a link between oat intake and reduced breast cancer risk or mortality.
Breast Cancer Study. A 2015 study found that a high consumption of nuts, including peanuts, was associated with 2-3 times reduced risk of breast cancer. This study was published in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation and compared 97 breast cancer cases to 102 normal cases in Mexico.
Salmon, tuna, anchovies and mussels are among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For cancer patients struggling with digestive issues and weight loss, seafood may help them maintain a healthy weight while providing key nutrients.
Consider avoiding eggs completely if you have had a reproductive cancer or are at high-risk for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Limit red meat to once a week or less and avoid cooking at high temperatures.
The bottom line. Processed meat, overcooked foods, and fried foods may increase your risk of some types of cancer. That’s because these foods may contain carcinogens, or compounds that cause cancer. Alcohol produces carcinogens when it’s metabolized by your body.
Potatoes with red skins incorporate anthocyanins that are know to be provide some protection against breast cancer risk. We would suggest buying organic red-skinned potatoes and eating them (along with their skins) after steaming or boiling them.
Citrus fruit, like grapefruits and oranges, may have a role in preventing certain cancers. One large study in Japan found that people who had citrus fruits or juices 3-4 days a week were less likely to get cancer than those who had them 2 or fewer days a week.
If you have an increased risk or a family history of breast cancer, you may want to consider eating less red meat, or replacing it with poultry. Your dietary choices about eating meat may have greater impact on your breast cancer risk if you are postmenopausal than if you are premenopausal.
You will likely meet your fiber goal if you eat 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables plus one serving of beans/legumes or at least two servings of whole grains daily. Keep WHITE off your plate: bread, pasta, rice, cream sauces, cakes, and more.
She and her colleagues recently published a study showing that women diagnosed with breast cancer who have diets rich in high-glycemic foods, including sugary foods and beverages, are more likely to die of the disease or any other cause.
Women who ate or drank higher amounts of milk, yogurt, hard cheese, cottage/ricotta cheese, ice cream, and dietary calcium, were unlikely to have an increased risk of breast cancer, and women with the highest dietary intake of calcium (from all sources) had a very slightly lower risk of breast cancer.
So it might be possible that low-fat dairy products have lower levels of estrogen and progesterone because most of the fat has been removed. This suggests that low-fat dairy products may be a better choice for women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, especially hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.