What to Eat When You Have Multiple Myeloma

What to Eat When You Have Multiple Myeloma

What to eat—and what to avoid—from treatment through remission.

If you have multiple myeloma, what you eat matters. And that’s true whether you’re in treatment or remission. 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 anemia and other cancer-related symptoms, and improve your overall health. It’s always wise to speak with your doctor, who can recommend a nutritionist or dietician to help you make the right choices for your particular situation.

Why diet matters for people with multiple myeloma
Many treatments that are common for people with multiple myeloma, including medications and stem cell treatments, merit an adjustment to eating habits. If you have anemia, weakened bones or kidney problems as a result of your multiple myeloma, your diet can play a role in helping alleviate those issues. Healthy eating choices during remission will also help your body feel strong and can help you feel better.

Cancer treatments can affect your appetite
It’s very likely that your appetite will shift during treatment. If you are receiving chemotherapy—whether in treatment or as a maintenance therapy during remission—queasiness and a reduced appetite are common side effects. That’s true when it comes to radiation, too. If treatments are making you queasy, try:

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

If you have constipation as a result of chemotherapy or any other medication, make sure to stay hydrated and introduce fiber-rich foods (such as fruit, whole grains, and oatmeal) into your diet.

Protect yourself from infection
Having multiple myeloma can put you at a heightened risk for infection, since your white blood cell count often falls. And, if you get a stem cell transplant as part of your multiple myeloma treatment, you’re at a particularly heightened risk for infections. Make sure to follow strict food safety rules: avoid 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
People with multiple myeloma frequently have anemia, or a low red blood cell count. If that’s the case, you’ll want to increase your consumption of iron-rich foods in your diet. Some good options are:

  • Vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and kale
  • Lean red meat, and also proteins like turkey, salmon, and clams
  • Iron-fortified foods
  • Beans

Iron or folic acid supplements may help with anemia (both will increase red blood cell counts). Vitamin D supplements and calcium can help strengthen your bones if they’ve been weakened as a result of multiple myeloma. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements, since they can potentially interfere with treatment.

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

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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