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Diarrhea During Cancer Treatment

Diarrhea During Cancer Treatment

Diarrhea may occur during cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, and is usually defined as having more than two loose or watery stools per day. It is important to drink plenty of fluids if you experience diarrhea.

Other suggestions include:

  • Drink at least 1 cup of liquid after each loose bowel movement.
  • Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day; small meals are often better tolerated than large meals.
  • Eat foods that are bland and low in fiber; add bulk such as bananas, applesauce, rice, potatoes, bread or crackers, pasta, gelatin, cooked green beans or other cooked vegetables, chicken soups and broths.
  • Drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes, such as sports drinks, oral electrolyte solutions and soup broth.
  • Talk with your doctor or dietitian about whether a multivitamin is needed to help restore nutrients lost during diarrhea.
  • Keep a log of the foods you eat and your bowel movements to determine which foods are irritating for you; everyone reacts differently so it is important to know your body. 

What to avoid or limit:

  • Irritating foods that are spicy, fried, rich or oily, such as french fries, salsa or creamy dips
  • Caffeine, chocolate and alcohol
  • Dairy products which contain lactose; choose lactose-free dairy products and/or take Lactaid® pills
  • High-fiber foods on days that you experience diarrhea, including raw fruit (except bananas), raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, brown rice and oatmeal
  • Gas-forming foods such as beans, lentils, broccoli and onions

Be sure to notify your doctor of all medications and herbal supplements that you are taking during your cancer treatment.

Try the following recipe

Dairy-Free Banana Rice Pudding

Makes: 8 servings (generous 1/2 cup per serving)

Total Time: 3½ hours (includes 2 hours chilling time)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon vanilla rice milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 ripe bananas, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine rice, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the liquid is fully absorbed (about 45 to 50 minutes).
  2. Stir in 3 cups rice milk, brown sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir cornstarch and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice milk in a small bowl until smooth; add to the rice pudding. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the mixture is the consistency of porridge (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.
  4. Mash 2 bananas in a small bowl. Stir the mashed bananas and vanilla into the pudding. Transfer to a large bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cold (at least two hours).

Just before serving, slice the remaining bananas. Top each serving with a few slices of banana and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.