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Chemotherapy Side Effect Relief: Recipes and Tips

By Lipscomb University Senior Students February 27, 2019Pearls of Wisdom Blog

Senior students in Lipscomb University’s Didactic Program in Dietetics contribute blogs to PearlPoint’s Pearls of Wisdom. View all student blogs here.

Eating a well-balanced diet during cancer treatment can be a challenge because side effects from chemotherapy can cause a significant change in appetite, taste buds and digestion. Often patients develop a metallic taste in their mouth that affects eating and drinking. Other side effects that comprises nutrient intake include nausea, vomiting, and sore mouth or throat. Side effects can lead to extreme weight loss, anorexia, and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).[1]

The good news is that there are things patients can do to help combat these side effects and increase nutrient intake.

 Remember to speak with your oncologist, primary care doctor or a registered dietitian before starting any new dietary protocol.

Quick Tips to Manage Side Effects

Nausea: Research shows that ginger can improve chemotherapy-induced nausea. Add a slice of raw ginger to tea, hot water, soups, or smoothies several times a day for optimum benefits.[2],[3]

Mouth Sores: Choose blended foods like cold smoothies and warm soups. Avoid rough, textured foods and spicy foods that can irritate open sores.

Metallic Taste and Loss of Taste: One of the most common symptoms from chemotherapy treatment is a metallic taste in the mouth when chewing food or drinking water. Try adding in fruits and mint to water to overcome the metallic taste. Use plastic flatware instead of metal ones. Before eating rinse your mouth with ginger tea or ale, salt water, fresh fruit juice, or mint water to cleanse the palette.[4]

Add Smoothies to Your Meal Plan

Smoothies may be more appealing during treatment because of sore mouth and throat. Protein and calorie needs may be higher than normal so adding in instant shakes or fresh made smoothies like the ones below can give your menus a phytonutrient and protein boost. If blending a smoothie is not an option, try a pre-made protein shake. Enjoy as meal or between meals. The icy cool, smooth texture will be soothing on the throat and a satisfying meal.

Two Nutrient-Dense Smoothie Recipes

Berry Bliss Smoothie 

  • 1-cup soy milk or non-dairy nut milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 scoop protein powder (whey protein or plant based protein)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tsp. almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds

Frozen Hot Chocolate Smoothie

  • 1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1 banana, frozen or ripe
  • 1 small slice ginger
  • ½ cup frozen cherries
  • 1 ½ cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ avocado 

Directions for Both

  1. Add liquid to blender.
  2. Add powder.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Blend and enjoy.


Kimberly Odom, Student in the Lipscomb University Didactic Program in Dietetics

[1] Cooper, C., Burden, S. T., Cheng, H., & Molassiotis, A. (2015). Understanding and managing cancer-related weight loss and anorexia: insights from a systematic review of qualitative research. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle6(1), 99–111.

[2] Ginger supplementation at daily dose of 0.5g-1.0g significantly aids in reduction of the severity of acute chemotherapy-induced nausea in adult cancer patients.

[3] Dehydration. (2018). Retrieved from

[4] Kalaskar, A. (2014). Management of Chemotherapy Induced Dysgeusia: An Important Step Towards Nutritional Rehabilitation. International Journal Of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation02(03). doi: 10.4172/2329-9096.1000198


Lipscomb University Senior Students

Author Lipscomb University Senior Students

Through a program with Lipscomb University’s Didactic Program in Dietetics senior students contribute blogs to PearlPoint’s Pearls of Wisdom. Lipscomb University is located in Nashville, TN. The primary mission of the Lipscomb University Didactic Program in Dietetics is to provide a high quality undergraduate educational experience in a Christian environment which prepares graduates for acceptance into internships and/or careers in dietetics. The curriculum is designed to provide for the development of the Foundation Knowledge and Skills established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) for Entry-Level Dietitians. Additionally, our students conduct a number of service projects each year in an effort to make others more aware of issues related to nutrition. Upon completion of the program, students will have the necessary knowledge and skills required for quality performance as a dietetic intern and/or professional. Through the PearlPoint Pearls of Wisdom blog series, students gain experience in providing easy-to-understand, written nutrition content for cancer survivors and caregivers.

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