Healthy Eating While Battling Cancer

In 2001, Holly was asked by an oncologist to co-author a cookbook for cancer patients.  So she started putting together the recipes, and at the same time, Holly’s dad was diagnosed with larynx cancer.  On his 70th birthday, Holly tested her recipes on him.  The recipes were designed to help cancer patients better tolerate treatments and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  “There are foods that are better tolerated that help with the side effects of the treatments,” she says. They are not just for cancer patients however.  “You can take the word cancer off, and it’s healthy eating!”  To this day, he looks forward to her cooking!

Over the last 15 years, her Eating Well Through Cancer has become one of the best-selling cancer cookbooks on the market.  Holly decided to update it because she says today there is so much more information out about cancer than there was 15 years ago.  To simplify the book even further, the chapters are organized by the different side effects and she offers approachable, simple recipes using familiar ingredients.  She took out the processed foods in her recipes and reduced the sugar, which are two of the major revisions she made to this cookbook.  Holly also stresses that she uses what she calls “familiar” ingredients.  “You don’t have to shop for special ingredients” says Holly.  She expanded the recipes for smoothies and snacks based on feedback she has received over the years.  “Food is one area you can gain control,” says Holly.  “With cancer, you don’t have control.  This gives you some element of control in your life.”
Acute side effects are caused by the destruction of rapidly dividing cells lining the gastrointenstinal tract.  This is one of the primary causes of loss of appetite, nausea, sore mouth and vomiting.  Holly recommends a low fat, light meal prior to treatments including cereal, oatmeal, grits, peaches, etc.  Twenty-four hours after treatment, Hollys says to try soups, puddings or sandwiches.  Try to avoid fatty, fried or greasy foods.  Water is essential so it’s important to drink 6-8 glasses a day.  Some chemotherapy lowers blood counts because it destroys good and bad cells that are produced in the bone marrow and weakens the immune system.  This is called neutropenia and Holly says during periods of neutropenia it is important to avoid raw vegetables and fruit, raw meat and raw seafood.  Certain drugs cause diarrhea so Holly suggests to avoid high fiber foods.  Try soups, flat soda or sports drinks.  Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast are good to decrease this condition.  Constipation can be a problem any time during treatments so it’s important to eat foods high in fiber, such as bran.  Try muffins made with prune juice instead of water.  Weight loss should be avoided during chemotherapy.  Holly says patients who maintain weight have fewer complications.  Eat small meals throughout the day and keep high-protein, high-calorie snacks on hand.  Once treatments are over, a patient’s tastebuds usually normalize.  Refrain from salt-cured or pickled foods as these contain natural carcinogens.  Consume whole grains, fruits and vegetables which contain high fiber which helps protect against colon cancer.   

Holly will show us the following:

  1. Bread Pudding Florentine, page 12; this is full of vitamins and minerals and a great dish to try before treatments;
  2. Gingerbread Muffins, page 45; ginger has been shown to help nausea;
  3. Easy Potato Soup, page 83; made with greek yogurt which is higher in calcium than plain yogurt;
  4. Glazed Salmon, page 184; a great source of heart-healthy fatty acids, B, A, D and E vitamins
  5. Lemon-Feta Chicken, page 157; lean in fat, high in protein

Eating Well Through Cancer was a groundbreaking cookbook first published in 2001 and updated in 2006.  This 15-year anniversary edition includes 100 new recipes in an easier-to-read format.


Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Best-selling author or numerous Trim & Terrific and Eating Well cookbooks including her 15 year anniversary, revised and updated cancer cookbook Eating Well Through Cancer, 2016

Has sold over 1 million cookbooks

Has appeared on FoxNews, NBC Weekend Today Show, QVC, Web MD, Huffington Post

Consulted for Walmart, Teflon, DuPont, The Coca-Cola Company, etc.


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