Healthy Snacks for Lung Cancer: Ideas for Quick and Easy Bites | MyLungCancerTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyLungCancerTeam
Powered By

Healthy Snacks for Lung Cancer: Ideas for Quick and Easy Bites

Medically reviewed by Mark Levin, M.D.
Posted on October 21, 2021

Figuring out what to eat when you have lung cancer can feel like solving a riddle. There’s no one-size-fits-all lung cancer diet, and your nutritional goals may be different depending on where you are in treatment. Snacks are a great way to fill in the gaps when you don’t have an appetite for big meals. Finding snacks filled with protein, fiber, and healthy fats will support strength and energy throughout your cancer journey.

Nutrient-Dense Snacks for Lung Cancer

Nutritious snacks can help combat the weight loss and muscle loss that often accompanies lung cancer. Of course, not every snack needs to be nutrient-packed. There’s nothing wrong with simple standbys like peanut butter and crackers. It’s fine to eat the foods that you like. However, finding new and creative ways to meet your calorie needs can help you navigate taste changes and other treatment side effects.

High-Protein Snacks

Getting enough protein is a common problem for people with lung cancer. Bite-size portions of protein spread throughout small meals and snacks can make it easier to meet protein intake goals. Protein-rich snacks can help you get the nutrition you need even when you don’t feel much like eating.

Protein shakes, bars, and puddings can help you get more protein if regular food sources aren’t appealing. In addition to these snacks, protein-rich foods to keep on hand include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Soy foods, like soymilk, tofu, and edamame
  • String cheese or fresh mozzarella balls
  • Tuna, canned salmon, or sardines on whole-grain crackers

High-Calorie Snacks

Adding healthy fats can boost the calorie content of your snacks. You can find these fats in:

  • Ground flaxseeds
  • Guacamole or avocado slices
  • Hemp seeds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Nuts and nut butters

Members of MyLungCancerTeam echo the importance of eating enough to maintain a healthy body weight. One member said, “My advice is to eat nut butters and ice cream shakes no matter if you’re hungry or not. I have Pancoast lung cancer and had a lobectomy. My job was to retain my weight. During surgery, I lost 7 pounds. I didn’t want to eat, but I made myself eat 2,800 calories a day, and I succeeded.”

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an essential component of any healthy diet. By eating different colors of fruits and veggies, you’ll provide your body with a range of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Opt for calorie-dense dried fruits, like prunes, dried apricots, or raisins, if you’re concerned about filling up too quickly. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower, are exceptionally nutritious for people with lung cancer. Wash and chop these veggies to have for a snack with hummus or your favorite vegetable dip.

Snack Solutions for Problem Foods

The effects of cancer treatment can make some foods hard to handle. In those instances, these snacks may come in handy.

Ice Pops

If you’re experiencing nausea from cancer treatment, you may find that hot foods with strong odors are difficult to tolerate. Instead, opt for cold or frozen snacks. Ice pops are a cool and refreshing way to help alleviate dry mouth from lung cancer treatment and take in some nutrition when you can’t stomach a hot meal.

A few members of MyLungCancerTeam have commented that ice pops were a go-to snack during chemotherapy. “I couldn’t eat for three weeks at the end of my radiation. I lived on ice pops,” said one member. Another shared, “I survived my chemo with banana frozen pops.”

Look for ice pops made with 100 percent fruit juice. Better yet, use a blender to prepare them yourself. You can blend frozen fruit with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt to add some fat and protein to your ice pops. Molds are available online, or you can make small ice pop bites in an ice tray.

Smoothies and Shakes

Hydration is essential to combat potential treatment side effects like dry mouth and swallowing problems. Doctors recommend drinking eight to 10 cups of water per day, but hydrating snack foods can also help. For example, you could make your own smoothies with frozen or fresh fruit, leafy greens, and a spoonful of nut or seed butter for extra calories. You could also try milkshakes with protein powder to sneak in calories throughout the day.

One MyLungCancer member suggested the book “Anti-Cancer Smoothies: Healing With Superfoods” by Linda Harris, saying, “They sound weird but are delicious. I can attest to these smoothie recipes as I used them several times when I had no appetite.”

Other Stomach-Soothing Options

On a chilly day, soups and oatmeal are comforting choices to settle your stomach. Remember, there’s no rule about what constitutes a “snack food.” Any food you’re in the mood for can help keep up your energy levels and strength during treatment.

Finding Extra Support

If you’re struggling with snack ideas that meet your health needs, consider meeting with a registered dietitian. Oncology dietitians are specially trained on different strategies to help you stay nourished. Here’s what a member of MyLungCancerTeam said about their experience seeing a dietitian: “I had a great dietitian at my oncologist’s office who helped me with high-calorie shakes and a list of spices that helped flavor food for me. I had no weight loss.”

A dentist and a speech and language pathologist can also assist with mouth issues and eating difficulties. Ask your health care team for referrals to take advantage of the expertise that different specialists can offer.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyLungCancerTeam is the social network for people with lung cancer and their loved ones. On MyLungCancerTeam, more than 4,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with lung cancer.

Are you living with lung cancer? What are your go-to snacks? Share your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyLungCancerTeam.

Posted on October 21, 2021
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

We'd love to hear from you! Please share your name and email to post and read comments.

You'll also get the latest articles directly to your inbox.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Mark Levin, M.D. is a hematology and oncology specialist with over 37 years of experience in internal medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

Related Articles

Military service can bring obvious dangers, but many veterans may face a more unexpected threat: ...

Military Veterans and Lung Cancer: 6 Facts To Know

Military service can bring obvious dangers, but many veterans may face a more unexpected threat: ...
Most research on nutrition and cancer relates to cancer prevention because there’s no specific di...

A Lung Cancer Diet? Foods To Eat and Avoid

Most research on nutrition and cancer relates to cancer prevention because there’s no specific di...
Smoking remains the top risk factor for lung cancer, but certain work environments can also raise...

5 Job Sites That Raise Lung Cancer Risk: Construction, Railroads, Nail Salons, and More

Smoking remains the top risk factor for lung cancer, but certain work environments can also raise...
This is a question I get asked a lot regarding my lung cancer: Do the boys know, and how are they...

Telling My Kids About My Cancer

This is a question I get asked a lot regarding my lung cancer: Do the boys know, and how are they...
Many people with lung cancer experience skin rashes as side effects from treatments such as radia...

Posttreatment Lung Cancer Rash: Photos and Tips To Soothe

Many people with lung cancer experience skin rashes as side effects from treatments such as radia...
There are many common causes of back pain, including minor injuries or strains, arthritis, or bul...

What Causes Back Pain in Lung Cancer? What It Feels Like and More

There are many common causes of back pain, including minor injuries or strains, arthritis, or bul...

Recent Articles

Like all cancers, lung cancer is caused by mutations, or genetic changes, in DNA. Mutations in ge...

5 Lung Cancer Mutations and Treatments That Target Them

Like all cancers, lung cancer is caused by mutations, or genetic changes, in DNA. Mutations in ge...
Lung cancer is a scary diagnosis that often leaves individuals and their loved ones grappling wit...

Is Lung Cancer Contagious?

Lung cancer is a scary diagnosis that often leaves individuals and their loved ones grappling wit...
Some medical procedures are used only in certain cases. For people with severe lung damage, a lun...

Lung Transplant for Lung Cancer: Is It an Option?

Some medical procedures are used only in certain cases. For people with severe lung damage, a lun...
Lung cancer is usually found in older adults, but did you know it can also occur in children? Alt...

Lung Cancer in Children: 7 Facts To Know

Lung cancer is usually found in older adults, but did you know it can also occur in children? Alt...
If your doctor runs tests to look at your lungs, they may see something unexpected. Unusual subst...

What Are Lung Infiltrates? Causes and Risk for Lung Cancer

If your doctor runs tests to look at your lungs, they may see something unexpected. Unusual subst...
When a person living with lung cancer can’t undergo surgery for any reason, their condition is of...

Inoperable Lung Cancer: What To Expect

When a person living with lung cancer can’t undergo surgery for any reason, their condition is of...
MyLungCancerTeam My lung cancer Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close