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To eat or not to eat before chemo. 1st chemo coming up

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I have my chemo instructions, what to take when.  Instructions said to take oral steroid pills with evening meal and then again with breakfast.  Obviously, I'm not real keen on eating before chemo, probably not even during chemo.  Do oral steroids and claritin upset your stomach if you don't eat?  Although you can't tell that I've ever MISSED a meal, I am a poor eater, usually only eating in the evening.  And I'm not great on water either, just coffee.  I don't want to mess things up, so what works for you?  Thanks Nancy

Posts: 173
Joined: Nov 2015


I had my first cylce was 3 weeks ago and my cycle two infusion is tomorrow.  I don't take any medicine prior to heading in for the infusion, I do put Emla cream on my port and cover it with plastic wrap about an hour before my appointment time. I get the steroids (Dexamethasone), Benadryl, Zantec, and something with an A that I can't think of right now.  I also have Bexamethansone that I take days 2 and 3 at home along with two anti naseau meds (Zofran and Compazine) that I take every 6 hours around the clock for the first two days and as needed there after.

I did eat a dry piece of toast before my 8:00 am appointment last time but I need something in my stomach first thing in the morning to prevent reflux so I knew I should have something.  I also ate a lunch that they provided during chemo.  It consisted of a turkey sandwhich, some animal crackers, and fruit.  It was light enough to be tolerable and still make me feel full.  I'm not much of a water drinker as a norm but I did try to hydrate well the day before chemo and of course thereafter. 

Good luck to you!  I know its hard not to be anxious and worried.  You're in good hands and the nurses will go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable.



Editgrl's picture
Posts: 903
Joined: Jun 2015

I was told to have a light breakfast before chemo, and I usually have 1 or 2 slices of toast with peanut butter, maybe some tea.  Sometimes, I just have a couple of breakfast bars or a smoothie. On my schedule, I take the oral steroids around 9-10 at night and then 3-4 in the morning, so there isn't much of anything in my stomach by then.  I haven't noticed there being an upset stomach as I usually go right back to sleep.  I sometimes take the Claritin on an empty stomach and haven't noticed any problem with it.

Even though you don't think you'll feel like eating during chemo, I would recommend taking some snacks, just in case.  Or, some, if not most infusion centers have some snacks available for patients, things like crackers, yogurt, juice, soft drinks, etc.  It is important to stay hydrated, but it doesn't have to be just water.  Juices, popsicles, tea, coconut water, all are good.  I take a bag with things like protein shake, coconut water, breakfast bars, fruit, crackers, my favorite yogurt.  I don't always eat them, but my infusion is about 5 hours long and runs through lunch, so I do usually get hungry.

Hope this helps.  



TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
Posts: 1802
Joined: Jun 2015

I always eat before chemo and I pack a lunch. In my opinion, it is important to give our bodies as much as possible to help rebuild.

Also, it will be critical for you to hydrate.  And stay hydrated.  I make it a point to have 64 ozs of water and juice every day. I didn't acheive that on my bad days this last time however.

Your body is going to go through a lot. You need to help it flush all of that poison out as quickly as possible.

I don't take oral steriods. Mine is given via the IV as a pre-med on chemo day. So, I'm not sure about the upset stomach.  I did have to have a prescription level Pepcid to counter the acid caused by the IV steroids.  I don't know if Claritin causes stomach issues either. But, I DID have a lot more stomach problems with my last chemo and I did use Claritin to help with the bone pain. Now you have me wondering about that!  Looking forward to hearing others opinions on it.

Good luck with your treatments.

Love and Hugs,


Lou Ann M's picture
Lou Ann M
Posts: 996
Joined: Feb 2015

I sat in a chemo room with a lady close by that refused to eat any thing before.   I now try to eat something light.  Lou Ann

Sandy3185's picture
Posts: 228
Joined: Oct 2013

Nancy it is so important to stay hydrated during chemo! I speak from experience as I was hospitalized 2-3 times because of fainting caused by dehydration. I have now learned to like water! I did eat before chemo, usually tea and toast. Chemo lasts for hours and it's not good to go that long without eating. My doctor did encourage me to eat before starting my chemo. My cancer center also provided snacks as well as a light lunch. My husband and I usually went out for a late lunch/early dinner after the chemo was done. ( it was usually 2+ weeks before I again had the energy or appetite to go out to eat.) I always felt pretty good the day of chemo and I didn't take any steroids before hand as they were administered interveinously before they started the chemo. I hope everything goes smoothly for you, Sandy

EZLiving66's picture
Posts: 1479
Joined: Oct 2015

I had my third chemo today and ate a 3-egg omelet with two pieces of toast right before my chemo at noon.  I also ate an orange and some crackers while I sat during the chemo.  I take steroid pills the day before chemo, then get steroids before my chemo and then take the pills for three days after.  

I have never had any problems with the chemo except they couldn't use my port today since it's infected but after three tries finally used the vein on the bend of my right arm which means I couldn't use my right arm or move it at all during the infusion.  I'm not getting Neulasta this time and will try to use diet to keep my WBC up.  Instead of two blood tests between chemo, I will have four.  If I can't get it back up to normal rates, they will give me Neupogen.  

I saw a nutritionist yesterday and she gave me a list of foods I need to eat every day to get that WBC up.  I can eat anything else I want but she said two eggs a day, four ounces of red meat, two oranges, one large serving of dark green vegetables, two protein snacks, a bowl of whole grain enriched cereal and 64 ounces of liquid in addition to four ounces of salmon three to four times a week.  Hopefully this will work because I think the Neulasta almost killed me!!!



Editgrl's picture
Posts: 903
Joined: Jun 2015

suggested for you, Eldri.  When I asked my doctor what foods I could take to increase my WBC, she didn't have any suggestions. Sounds your nutritionist is really pushing protein, which someone else mentioned here as a way to keep the counts up.  I have been doing that to keep my weight up, and I'm guessing that has helped with my blood counts, too. No delays so far, knock on wood.  You can do this!


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