Recipes for Cancer Treatment Side Effects | CFYL @ Fred Hutch

In Treatment

Cancer and cancer treatments often come with many side effects that make cooking and eating a challenge. It’s also a time when every bite counts. Wherever you are in the treatment process, it’s important to nourish yourself in order to minimize nutrition-related side effects and give you the strength to keep soldiering on.

strawberry smoothie for during cancer treatment

Cooking Through Chemotherapy

From one treatment trooper to another – our founder Ann Ogden Gaffney gives her tips for how to eat well and cope with familiar side effects.

Recipes for the Most Common Treatment Side Effects

butternut squash dal - anti-cancer recipes - anti-cancer recipes- cook for your life

Low Appetite

When your appetite isn’t what it was, focus on easy, nutrient-dense, small meals.

Pear Arugula Salad with Maple Vinaigrette - Cook For Your Life-anti-cancer recipe


High fiber, warm beverages, and probiotic foods to promote a healthy gut.

Tahini & Apple Oatmeal - Cook For Your Life- anti-cancer recipes


Manage this side effect with low-fat, low-fiber, and soluble foods.

Swedish Spinach Soup - Cook For Your Life- anti-cancer recipes

Difficulty Swallowing

Soft-textured foods to help you nourish yourself when you’re experiencing dysphagia.

Potato Leek Pancakes - Cook For Your Life-anti cancer recipes

Early Fullness

Focus on smaller and more frequent calorie-dense meals when you’re experiencing early satiety.

Smashed Black Bean Quesadillas- cook for your life- anti-cancer recipes


Easy to prepare, comforting, and energy-dense recipes to help you manage a lack of energy.

Antioxidant Rich Almond Smoothie- cook for your life- anti cancer recipes

Mouth Sores

Cold or room temperature recipes that are soft and low in acidity.

Chicken & Rice Congee- anti-cancer recipes- cook for your life


Smaller, more frequent meals that are soothing and easy on the stomach.

Roasted Fall Veggie Vegan tacos, anti-cancer - cook for your life

Taste Changes

Recipes that are rich in umami, acid, sweet, and spice to reenergize your palate.

Tempering Taste Changes Through Cooking

Thai Sweet Potato Curry cropped
Featured Recipe

Thai Style Sweet Potato Curry

Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter

Taste buds in need of a pick-me-up? Recipes packed with tons of umami flavor, like this tangy Thai curry, are just what you and your palate need.


Lavender Lemonade

Infusing lemonade with lavender gives this classic refresher a calming aroma, plus the acidic flavor of lemon can help mask metallic flavors if you’re experiencing taste changes.

Coping With Taste Changes

Nearly half of people going through treatment experience taste changes, which can make even water taste awful. Use our best culinary tricks and recipes to help combat this sneaky side effect.

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cayenne pepper - cook for your life

Chile Powder

Capsaicin-rich chiles add a special kick to food, but also contain important antioxidants and heat that can break through a chemo palate.

Stopping Weight Loss During Treatment

Chocolate Tahini Bars
Featured Recipe

Chocolate Tahini Bars

High Protein, High Calorie

Weight loss is a real issue during treatment. These salty-sweet chocolate tahini bars are perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth and adding calories to your diet when you need it most.


Spicy Pasta With Kale & Almonds

We’re firm believers in using whole grain pasta to pack in more cancer-fighting ingredients, and this quick, Sicilian-inspired dish is an example of just how effortless (and delicious) it can be.

Weight Loss During Treatment

Losing too much weight can be a sign of malnourishment, meaning your body isn’t getting the energy it needs to tolerate treatment. Learn how to get the calories you need.

Honey Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

This beloved condiment is more than just the perfect counterpart to jelly – it’s a boon for people who need to add more calories and healthy fats to their diet.

Managing Nausea During Treatment

Banana Almond Coconut Tea
Featured Recipe

Banana Almond Coconut Tea

Simple & Soothing

If eating solid foods isn’t on the menu currently, small meals and fortified, blended drinks like this warm smoothie can give you the comfort (and the calories) you need.


Ginger Poached Pears

Dessert can be healthy and delicious. Plus, this recipe has all the classic ingredients that can help you cope with nausea.

Top Tips for Nausea + Treatment

Sip slowly, avoid favorite foods, and lean into room temperature meals – these are just a few smart ideas for staying nourished while experiencing nausea.

stomach surgery managing nauseas
Banana, coconut, smoothie, anti-cancer recipe,- Banana Coconut Smoothie- anti- cancer recipes- Cook For Your Life


These kitchen counter favorites are a perfect on-the-go snack, but they’re also a great soother and source of nutrition for unsettled stomachs.

When To Contact Your Care Team

The statements on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. These resources exist to inform and complement the medical support you are receiving. Diet and nutrition can lessen the effects but if your treatment-related symptoms persist or worsen, it is vital that you consult your nurse, physician, registered dietitian, and more members of your cancer care team.