What to Eat When You Have Multiple Myeloma

What to include in your diet—and avoid—from treatment through remission.

Medically reviewed in April 2021

Updated on January 28, 2022

If you have multiple myeloma, whether you’re in treatment or remission, what you eat matters.

Many treatments that are common for people with multiple myeloma, including medications and stem cell treatments, call for an adjustment to eating habits. If you have anemia, weakened bones, or kidney problems, your diet can help alleviate those issues. Making healthy eating choices during remission will also help your body feel strong and can help you feel better overall.

While there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan for people with multiple myeloma, your nutritional choices can ease treatment side effects, help with symptoms, and improve your overall health. Your healthcare provider (HCP) can recommend a nutritionist or dietitian who can help you design a plan.

Treatment can affect appetite and bowel habits
It’s very likely that your appetite will change during treatment for multiple myeloma. If you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation, nausea and a poor appetite are common.

If you feel queasy, try:

  • Eating small meals more frequently
  • Sticking with bland foods, like crackers, toast, or clear broth
  • Supplementing meals with snacks
  • Drinking nutritional shakes in place of or in addition to meals

If you have constipation as a result of chemotherapy or other medication, make sure to stay hydrated. You should also include fiber-rich foods—such as fruit, whole grains, and oatmeal—into your diet.

Protect yourself from infection
Multiple myeloma can raise your risk for infection, since your white blood cell count often falls. If you get a stem cell transplant as part of your multiple myeloma treatment, you’re at a particularly heightened risk. Follow strict food safety rules by avoiding undercooked or raw meat, fish, and eggs, as well as unpasteurized beverages. Make sure all fruits and vegetables are carefully washed.

Nutrition for anemia and weakened bones
Due to the disease, treatments, or kidney problems, people with multiple myeloma frequently have anemia, or a low red blood cell count. If that’s the case for you, nutrition may help. Your body needs iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid (folate) to produce hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in your red blood cells.

Iron-rich foods include:

  • Lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans
  • Shellfish, sardines, tuna, haddock, mackerel
  • Dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli
  • Iron-fortified foods

Good sources of B12 are fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, as well as fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast. Folate is abundant in dark leafy greens, beans, fresh fruits, whole grains, liver, seafood, and eggs, as well as fortified foods.

Iron or folic acid supplements may also help with anemia. Vitamin D supplements and calcium can help strengthen your bones. Always check with your HCP before taking supplements, since these can potentially interfere with treatment.

Eating for kidney health
In addition to affecting your bones and blood count, multiple myeloma can also lead to kidney problems as a result of excess protein and calcium. Your HCP can recommend the best diet options for your kidneys, which may include reduced protein or calcium.

Article sources open article sources

International Myeloma Foundation. Multiple Myeloma and Anemia. Last medical review August 1, 2019.
American Red Cross. Iron Rich Foods. Accessed January 27, 2022.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12. Updated April 6, 2021.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9. Accessed January 27, 2022.

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