Dear Friend

If you are drawn to it, Eating Well sends your body a signal that you’re doing this to heal, that you are willing to do something for yourself because you matter, that you are dedicating yourself to healing with this cancer. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to you, your cancer, and your choices.

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Dear Friend

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food,” Hypocrates said.

Eating Well sends your body a signal that you are willing to do something for yourself because you matter. You are dedicating yourself to healing with this cancer.

But what does Eating Well mean? The answer goes back to the most important question: “What matters now for you?”

In this section, we go into much more detail on what a really healthy anticancer diet looks like. There are a lot of debates about choices like the vegan diet, Mediterranean diet, Paleo diet and more. Trust us, one size does not fit all.

There are radical anti-cancer diets that are often difficult to follow and may cause excessive weight loss, strength loss, or other negative effects that really should only be followed with the guidance of balanced practitioners. There are also tasty, balanced anti-cancer diets. Our colleague Rebecca Katz has written some of the best anti-cancer cookbooks. You can also link to her course free of charge when you join CancerChoices.

For one person, Eating Well may mean enjoying the foods you love, even if they aren’t deemed “healthy.” For others, this may mean restructuring your diet to include low-fat, plant-based foods in place of burgers and ice cream. For others, it may look entirely different. Ultimately, Eating Well means going back to what matters now for you and what you believe in. No matter what you choose, we’re completely with you.

At the end of the day, Eating Well as part of your approach to cancer care comes down to what matters to you, what you believe in, what feels nourishing, and what you can sustain.

Wishing you well,

Michael

Michael Lerner Co-Founder
Michael Lerner Co-Founder

Eating Well at a glance

Eating Well is one of our top-rated practices for improving cancer outcomes. Both conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and integrativein cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care, and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan oncology professionals recommend Eating Well as part of cancer control. Some common elements in many or most prescribed diets:

  • Plant-based, whole-foods diets:
    • An emphasis on eating mostly food from plants, either with or without small portions of quality animal protein, especially from fish
    • Limiting processed and refined foods in favor of whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits
  • Limiting red meat and favoring grass-fed animal sources

Eating Well may improve your response to cancer treatment and survival. Some large studies show 40% or more lower mortality among those following professional guidelines. What you eat can reduce inflammation—making your body (your terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more) less supportive of cancer growth—and reduce your risk of recurrence. 

A full description of evidence is in How can Eating Well help me? What the research says ›

Your diet may also affect your quality of life and some side effects, such as these:

  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting
  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep disturbance

In general, these are good foods and beverages to include in your diet regularly, but check with your doctor, registered dietician or nutritionist for restrictions: 

  • Vegetables, and especially broccoli and related (cruciferous) vegetables, plus carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes—which contain carotenoids—and also chili peppers
  • Blueberries and other berries, pomegranate, and other deeply colored fruits, such as mango and cantaloupe 
  • Alliums—garlic, onions, shallots, scallions and leeks
  • Plant proteins from beans, nuts, seeds and grains
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy monounsaturated fats, such as omega-3s fatty acids found in walnuts and wild-caught salmon and sardines
  • Edible mushrooms
  • Naturally fermented and cultured foods, such as kefir, tempeh, kombucha, sauerkraut, plain yogurt, and kimchi
  • Green tea

Avoid red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, highly refined grains, and alcohol.

Helpful resources

These resources provide on-the-ground advice and support for improving your diet.

Anticancer Lifestyle Program

This free, expert-led program helps you make healthy and informed lifestyle choices to reduce your risk of cancer, cancer recurrence, and chronic illness.

Anticancer Lifestyle Program Course

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

A comprehensive course including detailed information and delicious recipes, along with culinary skills and techniques that will support a nourishing experience during treatment and recovery

Access the course free of charge when sign up for CancerChoices news updates

Cookbook, course and materials

Cancer diets

Find information about specific diets and their impact on cancer, such as these:

  • Alkaline diet
  • Macrobiotic diet
  • Paleolithic (Paleo) diet
  • Vegan diet

We also offer full reviews of these diets:

We emphasize that Eating Well by itself will not likely prevent, cure, or control cancer. Like every other therapy or approach included on this website, Eating Well is one component of an individualized integrative plan rather than a stand-alone therapy.

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Authors

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewers

Rebecca Katz

Expert on the role of food in supporting health for the chronically ill and CancerChoices advisor
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Rebecca Katz, MS, is a nationally recognized expert on the role of food in supporting health for the chronically ill. With a master of science in health and nutrition education, Ms. Katz is founder of the Healing Kitchens Institute and has been a visiting chef and nutrition educator at the Commonweal Cancer Help Program for more than a decade.

Rebecca Katz Expert on the role of food in supporting health for the chronically ill and CancerChoices advisor

Whitney You, MD, MPH

Research Consultant
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Dr. You is a physician specializing in maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) with a specific interest in cancer in the context of pregnancy. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in health services research with a focus in health literacy and received a Master of Public Health.

Whitney You, MD, MPH Research Consultant

Miki Scheidel

Co-Founder and Creative Director
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Miki Scheidel is Co-founder and creative director of CancerChoices. She led the effort to transform Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, the prior version of CancerChoices, to its current form. Miki and her family were deeply affected by her father’s transformative experience with integrative approaches to metastatic kidney cancer. That experience inspires her work as president of the Scheidel Foundation and as volunteer staff at CancerChoices. She previously worked with the US Agency for International Development and Family Health International among other roles. She received her graduate degree in international development from Georgetown University, a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Gettysburg College.

Miki Scheidel Co-Founder and Creative Director

Last update: December 1, 2022

Last full literature review: June 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.