Dieting while on chemo

OK, this may seem silly, but I am getting really annoyed at putting on weight steadily, so I joined Weightwatchers Online yesterday. I seem to be putting on 4lbs every 3 weeks, then losing 2, hence a gain of 2lbs every 3 weeks.

I have had 3 x FEC so far, and have one more of those to go, plus 4 x taxotere. I have not been feeling sick or tired, particularly, and would have done more exercise except I had a cold/cough during the 2nd FEC which stopped me doing much.

I’m not going to obsess about it, or crash diet, but I want to use WW to keep a closer eye on the calorie content of what I am eating.

So, am I daft to try this during chemo and just before Christmas, or can anyone else understand!!??

I can certainly understand!! i put on about 2 stone during chemo some of it water retention! i had 3 fec and 3 tax. Tax hit me much worse and it was eating things i fancied or could taste which weren’t always good. Also not being able to move off the sofa didn’t help!! But eating heathily must be good, hope you succeed but listen to your body too, its being punished so needs to recover each time!

My onc said there was more important things to worry about and that it was a side effect especially with the steroids you get on tax. So now its all over i am looking a dieting after Christmas!!

Hope you have a good one, good luck, love debs xxx

Hi Flora,

I completely understand where you are coming from! I can’t believe how much weight I have put on from just 2 FEC. All my clothes are so tight suddenly! Having said that, I did the Christmas shop yesterday and the house is now full of lovely treats so I’m guessing the diet might have to wait. I think the eating thing is really hard, I don’t know about you, but all I seem to want to eat is carbs and sweets and when I get that horrible metallic taste in my mouth I just reach for something not thinking about the calories. It’s also really difficult to find any motivation to move off the sofa, especially when it’s freezing outside.

For me it’s finding a balance between not giving myself too hard a time about it, but also trying my best not to descend into a cadburys roses binge too often… sadly, I’m not being very successful at this at the moment!

Lisa x

I put on about 4 pounds per cycle and now have about 16 pounds to loose. Whilst i tried to be good when on chemo i couldnt eat anything fresh as it hurt my mouth and gave me acid! I eat a lot of quorn normally too but i hated that on chemo so my whole diet changed and not in a good way! The chemo nurse said to be kind to yourself and to feed your body to help it repair and not to worry what i ate especially carbs.

If you fancy eating healthily tho i would say go for it. It wont do you any harm at all! Ive simply stopped snacking and ive lost 5kgs just doing that so it will come off and as Debs says a lot is water retention.

I am a slimming world girl myself but wont venture there till the new year.
Good luck

Thanks girls
I have no excuse as my sense of taste hasn’t changed, and I am not over-sensitive to anything (I can still eat very spicy curries and chillis) - I am just hungrier and giving myself the excuse of ‘poor me’ even though, to be honest, apart from hair loss you’d not know there was anything wrong with me!!

I am not telling family that I have signed up as I know they will think I shouldn’t be worrying about it during all of this, but I want to control it just a little, for my own peace of mind, and to make the job later not so hard.

My mum put on weight during tamoxifen, which I am heading towards, so life if probably going to be harder then anyway, and I think the Zoladex I am on doesn’t help either, so I don’t want to keep putting it off and off and off!!

Your’re hungry because your body wants fuel to repair itself…or thats what my chemo unit said. The steroids give you the munchies too. Get some WW snacks then at least you know what you are nibbling!!!

With Evie on this one, yes it is depressing and I have gained about a stone in weight since starting chemo. I didn’t eat excessively, blame the steroids, but for me, know it was lack of exercise (usually a gym girl). I carried on eating lots of fruit and veg, but also wanted more carbs than ever before. I am not a “bread” person, but wanted toast and things! Porridge was good for me, slow releasing and filled me up. Some days when I felt nauseaus on FEC I used to force it down and it would take me ages to eat, but always felt better afterwards. The most important thing is to give your body what it needs and don’t worry about the weight gain. Yes, it’s horrid being bigger than normal, but keep your calorie intake up, you need all the energy and strength you can get, especially as the chemo accumlates. I did 8 cycles and got to 6 ok, but 7 and 8 knocked me for six. Best of luck

I’m so glad to have read this topic, I’ve had the same problems. I’ve only had 2 sessions of chemo and put on weight.
Like everyone else I keep wanting toast, weird isn’t it!!
I also feel fat,and also frumpy and the fact that I’ve lost a majority of my hair, pretty ugly, so I can understand why you’ve joined weight watchers.
I do think you need to keep eating though just to keep your strength up.
Although it’s upsetting, another part of me also just thinks in the great scheme of things, what does a bit of weight matter for the next few months, I mean at the end of the day we’ve all been through so much with the cancer, and this is helping so much, so if the side effect is weight gain so be it.
Hope you all have a good xmas, good health to all of you, love Jo. xxx

It is reassuring to know I am not the only one!

I am supposed to have 19 points worth of food in a day… I have had 23.5!! That’s my kind of diet!!! As I say, not going to be obsessive and may have more than I am ‘allowed’ but will try not to let it continue to spiral.

Gremlin, like you, it is the combination of hair, scar and additional fat which are making me feel totally unsexy. The hair will come back in a few months (I actually mostly forget I don’t have any and frequently answer the door with my bald head on display!!), but I feel unbalanced with a fat tummy and a one-sided boob!!! A flatter tum would sort it out…!!!

hi everyone, i think certainly for me, i used to be super fit, then this happened and the weight piled on. Its hard to recognise what i see in the mirror now, but it gets better, since i had my picc line out and now that my hair is growing, oh and mastered the art of drawing eyebrows on, im now looking a bit more like me, so hang in there, its getting better already and i only had my last chemo 2 weeks ago. Losing weight aint happening until after christmas though.
take care

Flora, I totally get what you are saying, and I think its just one more bloody thing thats moved out of our control - I must be a control freak because those things have bothered me the most. I’ve tried to manage things all the way through and have stopped weighing myself, but I have gone up a size.
I’m not dieting til the new year - my last chemo is Jan 6th - but I am looking forward to getting my body back. That might make me shallow and vain, but I don’t think it’s asking for much!
good luck everyone

Hi all,

Can I join in? It’s not shallow to be concerned about putting on weight, we’ve had so many other things to contend with - losing hair, feeling lousy etc. I’ve just finished chemo (6 x TAC) and each treatment I would firstly lose a few pounds through loss of appetite, taste problems but by next treatment I would have put the pounds on again so no overall weight loss or gain. However since I finished chemo 3 weeks ago I have steadily gained weight and am now almost a stone heavier than when I started all this. I know it is probably because I am now enjoying food after months of everything tasting awful, plus inactivity, I had planned to start walking every day as soon as I felt fit enough but managed to pick up a nasty cold/cough so have not been able to get out. I’m just about over it now so intend to try and exercise off the excess weight. I start Radiotherapy next week which means I still can’t get back to my main form of exercise, swimming, but will do so asap!! Problem is there is so much food, chocs, alcohol in the house for Xmas, I wish I could put it all in a bin bag and ditch it as it’ll be there tempting me!!

Good luck everyone, whatever stage you are at, a new year, in fact a new decade is about to start, hopefully a good one for us all.

Dae x

Hi Flora,
I think we all seem to be worried about how much weight we are putting on - its a time when our self esteem seems to be at its lowest and the extra weight just adds to that. I have just had 4th fec and have put on 2 stone - keeping nibbling at the carbs seems to be the only thing that holds the nausea at bay for the whole cycle. Oncologist said really not to worry and just do what you can to get through this and worry about weight and all the other cr@p afterwards (her words!) - we need to be kind to ourselves now and do what is necessary to minimise the pain, discomfort and trauma and to worry about getting back to our previous gorgeous selves once this nightmare journey is over!
Keep up the good work, you seem to be managing fabulously right now!
karen xx

Thanks Karen

Well, Christmas is over and so two days of eating too much have now ended and I’ll be back being sensible today. The chocolate roulade a friend made for me may be my downfall… Lol!!

I am debating gong for a run today, actually. FEC 4 will be on Wednesday, so I could get a couple in beforehand!

I know we have every right and need to be kind to ourselves, but I haven’t had the nausea so have no excuse really. And it’d probably be kinder in the long run not to be heavier than I need to be!

It is partly about control, partly about self esteem, and partly about health, for me.

I really admire you Flora29, I couldnt even think about taking a run any time in the cycle. Havent walked the dogs since it started, get so out of breath walking up the stairs at my normal fast pace but oncologist said thats low red cell count and low oxygen. You are really doing well!!! Long may it continue!
enjoy your roulade!!! and look forward to new year celebrations! Time for resolutions afterwards!!!
karen xx

Hi Flora

I’ve been doing WW all through treatment. By ‘doing’ I mean I am registered with them online and monitor my weight each week. I did try to keep track of my points while on chemo but with the bizarre food cravings just decided it was one thing too many to try to do. I lost 1 stone last year with WW and then put it all back on during diagnosis and surgery and have put nearly another stone on during chemo and during the past 4 weeks since I finished.

I think it is good because it does keep it in my mind and keeps me aware of how much weight I am gaining. I hate it, I am now so fat. The chemo dumped me into the menopause 6 weeks ago and I have been suffering hot flushes ever since. I am really scared that I will put on even more weight now I am in the menopause.

In January I will be starting exercise again and will go back on the diet. I hope that I will be motivated enough to stick to it and that it works, I’ve heard such horror stories of people ballooning and I can’t risk the health issues of being obese or of the way it makes me feel so awful

Keep up with the running - I started chemo still cycling and going to the gym but it didn’t last for long!

Good luck to all of us trying to lose weight - a never ending and daunting task.


Hi Helen
When do you feel your menopause started? I am on Zoladex and have had 3 treatments so far, and 3 Zoladex injections and had my period for the last 4 days.

My oncologist said to tell him if my periods don’t stop, as we want them to stop, so I’ll tell him tomorrow.

I do get a little bit hot and cold, but I don’t think they’re hot flushes as such as they don’t feel big enough fluctuations compared to what other people seem to experience.

Glad you are another ‘tracker’! I do think it reminds us of what we are eating, and helps us keep on top of things. My fridge is still full of pate, cheese, sausages… so I am going to have to resist all of those!!

HI Flora
I know exactly when I started the menopause! It was day five of my third cycle - Sun 1st November. I’d had two periods up till then, but the third was due on day one of that cycle, and failed to turn up. Five days later during that night the hot flushes started - no warning, straight in there with extreme hot and cold that night, and they haven’t stopped, nor altered in their ferocity since. it was a bit of a shock as I wasn’t expecting it, and it’s being an absolute nightmare since.

I had a blood test about 4 weeks ago, as I was asked to join a trial for hormone treatment for pre-menopausal women (which I have decided not to join), and the test came back suggesting a ‘post menopausal profile’. So that’s that.

I think you’d know if you had hot flushes - the ones I get are extreme, they make the skin on my neck and shoulders crawl, I get extremely hot, my heart races and I sweat profusely. They are a bit like an anxiety attack, or that feeling you get when you are suddenly scared by something and have that rush of adrenaline. They are worse at night as they are more difficult to control then and disturb my sleep. They are worse than the chemo, and that was pretty bad.

I’ve not pigged out over Christmas as I haven’t been doing the cooking for once, so no goodies in the fridge to snack on but I’ve still put on half a stone in the past five weeks - I think it’s due to going into the menopause, not a good prospect for the New Year.

I will start tracking again properly on Jan 4th, here’s hoping I can keep to it and feel up to doing some exercise again.