Did Cancer Treatment Affect Your Weight?

Learn how to lose or regain weight after treatment

Due to treatment side effects, changes in diet and lack of activity, many patients gain or lose weight during treatment. At the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, our clinical dietitian is available to discuss and create a personalized plan for you to ensure you are getting the food and nutrients you need.

Below are general methods that can help.

Lose unplanned weight gain by:

  • Talking to your dietitian or doctor first. They can guide and provide the best plan so you can maintain your muscle while losing body fat. It is typically recommended to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds of weight per week.
  • Eating mostly plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.
  • Drinking no-calorie beverages such as water unless your dietitian or doctor suggest otherwise.
  • Ensuring that you are consuming appropriate portion sizes.
  • Trying not to overeat when you are feeling stressed, depressed, fatigued or bored. Instead try sleeping or resting.
  • Being active. Ask for your doctor’s advice on when and how you can be active.
  • Asking friends to go for a walk when they offer to help you. You can also ask them to do other physical activities with you such as housework.
  • Not relying on dietary supplements for weight loss. They can have a potential interaction with treatment and medications. So, speak to your doctor about any supplements you are taking or plan on taking.

Regaining your weight

Increase your calorie consumption with nutrient-packed foods to regain your weight gradually. Eat several mini-meals throughout the day if you find you can’t eat much at one time. Here are foods that are concentrated in calories and nutrients:

  • Dried fruits such as raisins, dried apricots and dried cranberries
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters
  • Bean dips or spreads
  • Fruit dipped in peanut butter
  • Whole-grain crackers with cheese
  • High-calorie cereals
  • Healthy oils such as olive or canola to stir-fry or sauté foods
  • 100 % fruit juices
  • Nutritional supplement drinks

If you are able to exercise, combine eating more with strength training to your routine. As a result, it will help you gain back muscle mass by adding pounds while staying lean.

For questions or concerns regarding your weight, please ask your doctor or dietitian during your next visit.