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Diet and exercise after ALL

Many people ask us about what they should eat and what exercise they can do after they have had treatment. Exactly what you can do varies and depends on the treatment you have had and how fit you are. 

If you have had a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, have a look in the life after transplant section for more specific advice.

Diet and ALL

Diet plays an important part in coping with cancer and its treatment. A good, well balanced diet can help you feel stronger, have more energy, and recover more quickly.

After treatment most people can eat whatever they want. While having treatment you may have lost weight due to the side effects of your treatment.  This could have been because you:

  • lost your appetite
  • had taste changes
  • felt sick
  • had a sore mouth
  • had constipation or diarrhoea

Or you might have put on weight from the steroids you had as part of your treatment. 

If you still find it difficult to eat, you can try high calorie and high protein drinks. You might have had these drinks during treatment. Once your treatment has finished, you should begin to feel better and be able to eat a normal diet. This can take a while after intensive treatment.

After having cancer, many people look at their diet and make changes, deciding to choose healthier options. For example:

  • eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • eating less fat and salt
  • cutting down on alcohol

Both men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

Ask your doctor or nurse for a referral to a dietitian if you want more advice about your diet after cancer treatment.

Exercise and ALL

Exercise is a great way to help you feel better, both physically and emotionally. It can help to reduce tiredness (fatigue) after treatment. How much you can do will depend on how fit you are and how you feel. You will probably have days when you don’t have so much energy. Listen to your body and build up slowly.

Gentle walking is suitable for most people to start with. You can do most contact sports and swimming once your blood counts are back to normal and you feel up to it. Your central line should also be out and the site healed.

Ask your doctor or specialist nurse when you can do more physical and strenuous activities.
Last reviewed: 
13 Jul 2018
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    D Schmid and others
    PLoS ONE, 2018. Volume 13, Issue 1

  • UK Chief Medical Officers’ Alcohol Guideline Review: Summary of the proposed new guidelines
    Department of Health, January 2016

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Obesity and Metabolic Disease After Childhood Cancer
    D Barnea and others
    Oncology (Willston Park), 2015. Volume 29, Issue 11, Pages 849-855

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015 

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