No Appetite? How to Fill Your Nutrition During Chemotherapy (+ Grocery List_Odisha)

Can you stay upbeat beating the “No Appetite” during chemotherapy treatment for cancer?

Learn how to fill in the nutrients your body needs everyday during this difficult period.



We like to communicate this article for a reason. The simple reason being almost all of the cancer patients we met at chemotherapy unit of Sparsh Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha lacks knowledge about the nutritional requirement during their chemotherapy treatment as of today. They don’t realize nutrition is an absolute necessity to survive to the next chemo and the following. So some patients quit taking chemo without completing the cycle and face Severe consequences.

Most of the foods recommended from west is unavailable or not advised from the doctors here at Sparsh. There are no guidelines to follow from internet for Odisha people as far as our search goes.

There are no nurse practitioners and there were no specifics, brochure, and leaflets available to read about what to eat during chemotherapy. The doctors were too busy to answer any specifics. We use to call or ask during treatments about eating or not eating some foods. Let’s delve in to learn.

What and How to Eat to Get the Nutrients In

Eating during chemotherapy is a challenge. Chemo treatments weaken the body. You feel nauseated, vomiting, tastelessness, salty mouth with no saliva secretion resulting in dry mouth. On the top of that you have to eat bland food with no spicy or oil. Here are some of the things we followed.

You need to recover to have a sufficient platelet and RBC level.  So foods during chemotherapy need to be healthy and sufficient enough for the patients to fill in the nutrition gap from one chemo to the next one which is one week. Here are some practical and tasted tips that help manage your appetite during chemotherapy.

The food, diet and recommendations are from one of the patients. It feels good to mention this patient cleared cancer cells by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan. Here are the practical tips that helped Sharna (the patient under treatment). We hope this will help others to recover from this deadly disease and continue with the life as usual.

Structure Your Day

  • Start your morning ritual with pranayama in an empty stomach. This breathing exercise helps focus your mind during chemotherapy which generates a distractive, forgetful and unfocused mind.
  • Drink water (500 ml) after Pranayama. If you don’t feel like, add little piece of lemon. Sip in slowly.
  • Make a ginger (2 tsp) tea adding shredded ginger to boiling water (1 cup), cool it to ambient temperature, filter then drink the water. Ginger is known to help improve nausea tic condition, digestion, and metabolism and improve immunity.
  • Do not drink water or other beverages to fill your stomach before main meals. 
  • Eat freshly cooked meals.
  • Stick to the timing of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • Do not use the cooked breakfast meals for lunch or the lunch meals for dinner.
    • Let the freshly cooked foods come to room temperature before eating. Avoid eating out.
  • The doctor advised us not to drink cold water or beverages.
  • Eat in small portions if you are dealing with nausea and vomiting. Most of the time this is the case.
  • Sometime chewing a small piece of raw ginger or lemon can push the food down.
  • Drink water or lemon water frequently to keep you hydrated. That helps clear up toxins from the body.
  • Exercise to make you feel hungry. Walking is an easy one and is beneficial during chemo.
  • Let your family or friends join with you.
  • Find ways to gulp food inside.
    • Read newspaper while eating.
    • Watch television and get distracted.
    • Watch images of kids you always loved or watch them in video playing.
    • Involve in a video chat with friends or family if they are not around.
    • Grind the food and drink it as a thin slurry
    • Mash boiled lentils and veggies to make it easier to swallow.
  • Keep varieties of healthy snacks by your side.
  • Keep a water container by you and finish the desired amount by the end of the day.

Here are few things the doctor told us not to eat when asked multiple times.

What Not to Eat During Chemotherapy

  • Sugar in any form (raw, brown, honey, molasses)
  • Sour foods (oily and salty pickles)
  • Refined flour (chickpea flour, gram flour)
  • Red meat
  • Raw greens
  • Alcohol
  • Oily and spicy foods
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Guava and grapes
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Raw sprouted beans like moong and black beans
  • Don’t use refrigerated food.

Chemotherapy Grocery List




Sooji (cream of wheat)

Semolina (made up of cream of wheat)

Dry whole beans

Moong Dal (split and whole)

Black beans

Kidney beans


Cashew nuts



Pumpkin seeds

Flax seeds


Try to procure locally grown or preferably organic veggies and fruits. Most fruits and vegetables are allowed in this treatment.


Green jackfruit


Bottle gourd

Bitter gourd

Ridge gourd

Home grown eggplant


Red pepper Curry leaves

Fenugreek leaves (dry and fresh)

Mint leaves

Elephant apple




Arrowhead beans



Ceylon Cinnamon






Rice bran oil

Mustard oil

Cow ghee

Green tea


Prefer seasonal

Apple Guava (doctor restricted not to eat)




Water melon


Animal Proteins

Small weight fresh fish


Ask your doctor if you have questions about specific food. You may be different than this particular patient.


Stay upbeat. If someone could do it you can. Go slow and meet your daily goal. Stay connected with your loved ones. Be a thriver.

Anusuya Choudhury

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