Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

Desirable Desserts

No celebration and family gatherings are ever complete without dessert. When planning your next party or get-together, follow this advice for some healthier and still delicious desserts.

Fruit Salad

Serve fresh fruit before the rest of the dessert The healthiest dessert around is a fresh fruit salad. Use an assortment of fruit, chopped into bite-size pieces. Create a more flavorful fruit salad by using in-season fruit and smaller pieces. Pair the fruit salad with some other whole food-based desserts, such as dates, figs, and nuts. Try making pitted dates stuffed with pecans—tastes like pecan pie!

Dates figs and nuts

These foods are all high in nutrients and fiber, so you will likely fill up faster when eating them compared to traditional desserts. After serving, wait 15 minutes before bringing out the rest of your dessert.

Buy fewer and pre-portioned higher-calories desserts If you want to offer a high-calorie dessert, such as brownies, cookies, pies, or cakes, only buy or make enough to give everyone a single (or maybe one-and-a-half) portion. Also, pre-portion the servings, so that everyone gets a piece, but is not tempted to take too large of a piece. Odds are that some people will not have their dessert, so those who really want seconds probably can have them anyway.


Also, the fresh fruit, dates, and nuts provide other dessert options for those who are still hungry for something sweet.

Out of sight, out of mind We all often tend to eat too much dessert, because it sits on the table and we pick at it for the rest of the evening. Clear the desserts from the table about 30 minutes after serving. This gives guests enough time to get dessert, but not so much time that they go back for seconds that they did not really need.

Leaving fruit and beverages (and even some cut-up vegetables) out after the 30 minutes is a great way to provide some additional snacking options for those who want to stay longer.

Veg snacks

Fruit Mostarda

At a time of year when fresh fruit isn’t plentiful this dish features a medley of frozen peaches and cherries, fresh pears and grapes, and tart pomegranate juice. Sweet and savory with an unexpected flavor, this adds fiber-packed and phytochemical-rich fruit to your cancer preventive diet. Use either fresh or frozen fruits or a mix of both.

Fruit mostarda


  •        1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen sliced peaches
  •        1 cup frozen dark cherries
  •        1 medium Bosc pear, peeled, cored and cut in 1-inch pieces
  •        1 cup large seedless red grapes, preferably globe variety
  •        4 (2-inch x 1-inch) strips orange zest
  •        1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  •        1/3 cup dry mustard powder
  •        3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  •        1/4 cup honey
  •        1/4 cup sugar


In mixing bowl, defrost peaches and cherries. Drain liquid from bowl into measuring cup. Transfer peaches and cherries to stainless steel or other non-reactive medium saucepan. Add pear, grapes and orange zest.

To measuring cup with peach and cherry liquid, add enough pomegranate juice to make 1/2 cup liquid, reserving extra pomegranate juice for another use. Place mustard powder in small mixing bowl. Pour in juice mixture and whisk to combine with mustard. Add mustard mixture to pot with fruits. Add vinegar, honey and sugar.

Over medium-high heat, bring liquid to boil. Using wooden spoon, gently stir to combine fruits with liquid and sweeteners. Boil gently until liquid is foamy, then reduce heat and boil gently until liquid is slightly thickened and fruits are tender but not falling apart, 20 minutes. Off heat, cool mostarda in pot to room temperature.

Using large spoon, transfer mostarda to jar or bowl, preferably glass, including liquid up to level of fruit. It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days. If desired, use remaining liquid to make red cabbage slaw or salad dressings, adding lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.

Makes 6 servings. Yield: about 2 1/2 cups. Per serving: 165 calories, 1 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 40 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 mg sodium.



What are energy-dense foods?

Most foods provide us with energy (calories), but some foods contain more energy per ounce than others. Energy-dense foods tend to be processed foods with sugar and fat added to them. The result is more calories per ounce.

For example, 3.5 oz. of chocolate contains 10 times more calories than the same amount of apple:

3.5 oz. of milk chocolate = 520 calories
3.5 oz. of apple = 52 calories

hi-lo energy density foods

It can be difficult to control how much energy you are consuming if you eat a lot of energy-dense foods because you only need to eat a small amount to take in a lot of calories. It’s okay to eat energy-dense foods occasionally, or in small quantities, but try not to make them the basis of your diet. By choosing a diet based on low-energy-dense foods, you can actually eat more food but consume fewer calories.

Plant foods can also help us to maintain a healthy weight because many of them are lower in energy density (calories).

Foods that are low in energy density, like the apple, are high in fiber and water. Most vegetables, fruits and beans fall into the low-energy-dense category. This can be another reason to base your diet on plant-based foods.

Low density foods

Research shows that vegetables and fruits probably protect against a range of cancers, including mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, lung, pancreas and prostate. There are many reasons why vegetables and fruits may protect against cancer. While containing vitamins and minerals, which help keep the body healthy and strengthen our immune system, they are also good sources of substances like phytochemicals. These are biologically active compounds, which can help to protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.

Soluble Fiber

Foods containing fiber are also linked to a reduced risk of cancer. These foods include whole-grain bread and pasta, oats and vegetables and fruits. Fiber is thought to have many benefits, including helping to speed up ‘gut transit time’ – how long it takes for the food to move through the digestive system.

studio shot of vegetable isolated on white

Let’s talk Portions…

Portions and Servings: What’s the Difference? 

A portion is the amount of food that you choose to eat for a meal or snack. It can be big or small.

A serving is a measured amount of food or drink, such as one slice of bread or one cup (eight ounces) of milk.

Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain multiple servings. The Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods (on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc.)  tells you the number of servings in the container.




To overcome portion distortion and to downsize your helpings, try these tips:

  • Eat from a plate, not a package, so you know how much you eat.
  • Use smaller dishes, such as a lunch plate for your dinner, so less looks like more on your plate