Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating: When You Aren't Feeling Well

Written By Christy Brissette

​Holidays often mean lots of time spent with family and friends, and usually involve lots of food. In my last post I shared tips on enjoying the holidays when you are trying to keep a healthy weight. But what can you do if you are going through cancer treatment and aren’t feeling well or are dealing with side effects?



  1. If you’re worried about feeling nauseous at dinner, talk to the host about it. Maybe you can join for dessert or tea to avoid some of the cooking smells. You can also bring some of the foods you are comfortable eating based on any side effects you are dealing with.
  2. Serve yourself – that way you can choose the foods that will help you manage your side effects. You can also choose smaller portions that you feel comfortable with.
  3. If you have a sensitive stomach, rich foods can make things worse. Choose plain foods that are baked or steamed with little added fat. Try some turkey with cranberry sauce (instead of gravy), rice, baked potatoes or a dinner roll. Add some plain veggies. Again, talking to the host in advance to see what will be available and bringing your own side dishes will really help.
  4. If your immune system has been weakened by your treatment, be careful about food safety, especially if the food is served buffet-style. Make sure hot foods are steaming hot and cold foods are on ice. It’s also a good idea to avoid high-risk foods like sushi, deviled eggs and homemade eggnog. If you aren’t sure how long foods have been sitting out, ask the chef or host. Or try foods like cheese and crackers, chips and salsa, nuts and cookies – these are safer bets because they can sit out longer.
  5. If you’re usually the host but are feeling tired, talk to your family and see if someone else can host this year. Or, start a new tradition and go out to eat. It’s ok to ask for help.

​This holiday season, take a vacation from stress and have fun! Take the focus off food by planning a fun activity for family and friends.