Specialized Nutrition: Diabetes and Cancer

Facing cancer and its subsequent treatment can be unsettling, and the addition of a pre-existing condition can make matters such as nutrition more complicated. We are aware of the difficulties, which is why we want to clarify the position and opportunities patients have when facing cancer on top of a pre-existing condition. Today, we will be focusing on diabetes in particular.

Good nutrition is crucial for alleviating the adverse effects of cancer medication. Having pre-existing conditions before treatment can make meeting nutritional needs more complex, but not impossible. With the help of a skilled nutritionist, those facing diabetes and cancer can take steps to make their recovery journey easier. With that, let’s discuss the ways you can improve your diet to adjust to the changes your body is undergoing.  

Design a satisfying, nutritious diet if you have both cancer and diabetes can be complicated, but it isn’t impossible.

Understanding Diabetes and Cancer

Diabetes limits the body’s ability to process blood sugar from the food it consumes. This inability commonly results in high blood sugar, which has to be monitored by eating low to no-sugar foods. Keeping your blood sugar consistently low during cancer treatment helps limit the potential for heart and kidney disease, stroke, and nerve damage. 

According to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, cancer treatments can affect your blood sugar levels. Taking control of your diet is key to preventing blood sugar increases during treatment and keeping your body hydrated. 

Dietary Adjustments

Thankfully, eating does not have to be dull. Eating healthy as a person with diabetes and cancer has two objectives: keep the blood sugar low and receive all of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Below are a few steps you can take to making helpful dietary adjustments.

Eat Fruits and Veggies 

You’ve probably heard that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is important to your diet, but this is such common advice that you may not know why it’s essential. Vegetables, such as spinach and asparagus, contain fiber, which helps your body process what it eats. Fruits contain many of the vitamins your body needs, like Vitamins C and D. Together, fruits and veggies provide a low-calorie, low-to-no cholesterol, low-sugar, and low-fat snack and meal option.

If eating vegetables and fruits plain is unappetizing to you, you can try recipes that are tailored to your taste. Fruit smoothies with low-fat Greek yogurt, steamed veggies with low-fat butter, chocolate-covered strawberries, vegetable casseroles — all of these are valid options for increasing your fruit and veggie intake. 

Foods with low glycemic indexes, meaning that their sugars are absorbed more slowly, are good for both diabetes and cancer patients.
Foods with low glycemic indexes, meaning that their sugars are absorbed more slowly, are good for both diabetes and cancer patients.

Drink Water

Our bodies are predominantly made of water, which is why the amount of water we drink daily can directly affect our mental and physical states. Dehydration increases sluggishness, dizziness, and confusion. A quick way to check your water intake is by checking the color of your urine. The yellower the urine, the more dehydrated you are. 

While there is no exact recommendation for how much water a person should drink (it varies from person to person), we can tell you that drinking more water helps your body flush out excess nutrients and even harmful toxins. Fruit & veggie juice and water infusions are fun ways to help you drink more fluids.

Opt for Healthy Sources of Protein

Many of the fast-food options for protein are weighed down by heavy sauces and fat that, while are delicious as a portioned treat, are detrimental in excess. Swapping out hamburgers for low-fat chicken and beans is choosing healthy protein sources over unhealthy ones. Healthy protein is also available in nuts, low-fat yogurts, and granola.

Eating healthy foods goes in hand with limiting your consumption of foods high in sugar, sodium, and fat. Remaining consistent in eating healthy foods is key to getting you into a better state.


Before you go, we want to encourage you. Handling cancer with diabetes is a challenge we believe you can face. And you do not have to do it alone. At ORW, we partner with you to create a specialized nutrition and physical therapy program to ensure that your body is getting everything that you need.  Our Certified Oncology Dietitian is available for consultations and nutritional guidance.  You can email us at info@oncrehabandwellness.com for more information or you can call to set up a telehealth consultation.  

More blogs on specialized nutrition for other pre-existing conditions and after-effects of cancer are coming along the way. You can stay tuned for more via our newsletter here or our Facebook here.