Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
Nutrition is an important part of life, cancer treatment, recovery, and prevention. Food is one of the few things you can be in control of during your treatment. The oncology certified registered dietitians at the Stanford Cancer Center are here to help you make informed choices about nutrition, answer your nutrition-related questions, and help you to achieve and maintain good health.
Diarrhea is frequent, loose, and watery bowel movements. It occurs when waste matter passes quickly through the bowel before your body has a chance to absorb the water from it. Diarrhea may cause dehydration – a lack of water in your system. Thus, it is very important when you have diarrhea to drink a lot of fluids, especially water. Drink liquids that are at room temperature – not hot or icy.
If you have a sudden, short-term attack of diarrhea, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends taking nothing but clear liquids for the next 12 to 14 hours. This lets your bowel rest and replaces the important fluids lost during the incidence of diarrhea. Discuss any difficulties with diarrhea with your physician or registered dietitian.
The following are good food choices if you have diarrhea:
Yogurt and cottage cheese
Rice, noodles, and potatoes
Farina or cream of wheat
Eggs (cooked until the whites are solid, not fried)
Smooth peanut butter
Canned, peeled fruits, and well-cooked vegetables
Skinned chicken or turkey, lean beef, and fish (broiled or baked, not fried)
Try to avoid the following:
Fatty or fried foods
Fruit seeds, skins, and stringy fibers
Vegetables with a lot of fiber such as broccoli, corn, dried beans, cabbage, peas, and cauliflower
Some people need to avoid milk and dairy products when they have diarrhea. This is because they may not tolerate the lactose contained in these products.
Broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables. This vegetable family contains powerful phytochemicals, including carotenoids, indoles and glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which have been studied and shown to slow the growth of many cancers.