The holidays are all about celebrating with family and friends, which usually involves eating. You may not have the same appetite you usually do.
Below are some useful tips from Christy Brissette and the Princess Margaret Dietitians on how to get through the holiday feasts and still feel the spirit of the season.
If you have no appetite...
- Before a “sit down” meal, ask your host to serve you small portions or ask to serve yourself.
- At a “buffet style” meal, choose what you can manage to eat and the amount that you want. Nibble as you mingle.
- If you do not want to sit at the dinner table, let the host know that you will be joining for dessert.
If you are worried about feeling nauseous at dinner...
- Bring your own plate of foods you are comfortable eating. Tell the host in advance.
- Avoid some of the cooking smells by joining the party for dessert or tea.
- Join the party after the meal, even if it is for a short while.
If your immune system has been weakened by your treatment, be careful about food safety.
- Make sure hot foods are steaming hot and cold foods are on ice. Bacteria that cause food bourne illness grow the quickest at room temperatures.
- Avoid foods like sushi, deviled eggs and homemade eggnog. These foods can carry bacteria that may be harmful, especially if you have a weakened immune system.
- If you aren’t sure how long foods have been sitting out, ask the chef or host. Or stick to foods like chips and salsa, nuts and cookies. These foods are safer bets because they can sit out longer.
If you are feeling tired and weak...
- If you usually host, ask a relative if they can host the event this year.
- If a friend is going shopping, ask if they can pick up a few items for you too.
- Use some ready-made products. For instance, buy shortbread cookies this year instead of baking them yourself.
More tips for healthy holiday eating:
Visit the Patient & Family Library:
Learn about cancer and nutrition and to find recipes that meet your needs. You may find these resources helpful:
Books available on loan:
Library staff is happy to help you find a book to meet your needs.
Goes Down Easy
Recipes to help you cope with the challenge of eating during cancer treatment
By Elise Mecklinger and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Dietitians
American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Nutrition for Cancer Survivors: Eating well, staying well during and after cancer
By Barbara Grant
Eat well stay nourished: A recipe and resource guide for coping with eating challenges (Support for People with Oral Head and Neck Cancer)
By Nancy Leupold
The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide & Cookbook
By Jean LaMantia
UHN brochures available for free:
Ask library staff for a free copy.
Read more tips from Princess Margaret registered dietitans, available online:
Browse the ELLICSR Kitchen Recipe Archive:
Here are two festive recipes created by the ELLICSR Kitchen team, Geremy Capone, Wellness Chef, and Christy Brissette, Registered Dietitian. Visit the
ELLICSR Kitchen for more recipes.
On behalf of the Patient & Survivorship Education Team, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season.
Library Hours & Contact
Monday – Thursday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm; Friday 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Phone: 416 946 4501 ext. 5383
Website: Princess Margaret Patient & Family Library