May 17, 2021

What foods should I avoid during radiation therapy?

While you can eat whatever you want during your radiation treatment, you should expect to make some adjustments to your diet. When asked what foods should I avoid during radiation therapy, the answer is especially foods that greatly increase the activity of your bowels.

Your radiology team suggested a low fiber or low residue diet for the duration of the treatment? Read the following, but only after requesting a referral to a dietitian or nutritionist.

What is a low residue diet?

It limits foods high in fiber, such as whole-grain bread and cereals, nuts, seeds, raw or dried fruits, raw vegetables, caffeine, and lactose-rich dairy products.

“Leftovers” are undigested foods, including fiber, that make up your stool. The goal of the diet is to limit your bowel movements, bloating and gas and to relieve symptoms such as diarrhea and/or stomach cramps.

This diet does not prevent you from consuming condiments such as butter, margarine, sour cream, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise. Fruit jellies are preferred over strawberry or raspberry jams (they are seed-free) and non-crunchy peanut butter.

That said…

Everyone is different. If you like whole grains, nuts, and raw fruits and vegetables, it can be difficult to switch to a low-residue diet. But if you prefer white bread and pasta, canned fruits and vegetables and are happy to snack on soda crackers, vanilla wafers with applesauce, you will be comfortable with this type of diet.

The important thing is to take note of what you eat and how you feel from a gut point of view to find out what is working for you. Keeping a food journal for a few weeks might help.

So what to eat during and after radiation therapy?

We avoid...

  • Avoid whole grain bread, dried fruits, fermented cheeses (brie, Oka), legumes, processed foods, fatty, fried, spicy or sweet, cold meats, large amount of juice, ice cream;
  • Avoid foods considered natural laxatives, such as prunes, prune juice, rhubarb and papaya, chewing gum, and sugar-free candies that contain sorbitol;
  • Limit your intake of foods or drinks that can cause gas or bloating such as soft drinks, beer, corn, leeks, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, beans, garlic, peas and onions;
  • Also reduce your intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate) and lactose (milk, cheese).

We opt...

  • Opt for foods that are low in fiber, for example, white flour bread and pasta, white rice, puffed rice or corn flakes cereals, dry biscuits, crackers, Melba toast;
  • Opt for fresh, well-cooked vegetables or canned vegetables without seeds, such as asparagus tips, beets, carrots, mushrooms, mashed or baked potatoes without the skin, tomato sauce (without seeds);
  • Opt for canned or cooked fruit without seeds or skin, such as applesauce or canned pears, bananas, melons, apricots (peeled), avocado;
  • Opt for lean cuts of meat, poultry, pork or fish, canned tuna (in water), eggs;
  • Consume foods high in potassium/sodium such as bananas, oranges, fruit juices or nectars (in small quantities and without pulp), chicken broths, potatoes, and foods high in probiotics, such as yogurt Activia;
  • Sip liquids slowly and do not drink through a straw;
  • Drink plenty of water, 6 to 8 glasses a day.

Eat light meals or snacks more often during the day. After treatment, foods that increase the activity of your bowel functions are still avoided until they return to normal. Do light exercise, such as walking, which may help ease your discomfort.

And don't forget. If your urinary or intestinal functions are is upset by your treatment, talk to your specialist or family doctor.

Take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease with our expert lectures, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you.

Do you have any questions or concerns? Above all, do not hesitate. Contact us at 1 855 899-2873 to discuss with a nurse specializing in uro-oncology. It's simple and free, like all our services.

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