Diet after treatment
Immediately after treatment – particularly surgery – you may be on a modified diet. During and after recovery from treatment, you may find that some foods cause discomfort, wind or diarrhoea.
Your treatment team may tell you about some foods to avoid, but different foods can affect people differently, so you will need to experiment to work out which foods cause problems for you. It is best to limit – not eliminate – these foods from your diet, as you may find that what you can handle improves over time.
Keeping a food and symptom diary can help. Your ability to handle different foods usually improves with time but can take many months. If you find that dietary fibre makes any bowel problems worse, you may need to eat low-fibre foods.
If you have a stoma, you may need to make some dietary changes in the first few weeks to help the stoma settle. Nuts, seeds and very fibrous foods can lead to a blockage in the stoma. The level of stoma output will vary depending on how much you eat and when you eat. By trial and error, you might identify particular foods that irritate the stoma, but these vary considerably between people.
Most people with a stoma return to their normal diet. If you have concerns, your doctor or stomal therapy nurse may refer you to a dietitian.
For more information on eating well during and after cancer treatment, see Nutrition and cancer.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
A/Prof Craig Lynch, Colorectal Surgeon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Tim Price, Medical Oncologist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, and Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, SA; Department of Dietetics, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Hooi Ee, Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Dr Debra Furniss, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis CancerCare, QLD; Jocelyn Head, Consumer; Jackie Johnston, Palliative Care and Stomal Therapy Clinical Nurse Consultant, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, NSW; Zeinah Keen, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Elizabeth Murphy, Head, Colorectal Surgical Unit, Lyell McEwin Hospital, SA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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