Dealing with Severe Fatigue

Fruits and vegetables

What can I do about severe fatigue? Are there specific foods I can eat or things I can do to help get through it?

Frequently, people undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy feel extremely fatigued. One of the most effective ways to increase your energy is to, believe it or not, exercise.

The amount you can exercise will vary but this is a proven strategy for beating fatigue. To the extent you are able, aim for 30 minutes per day (doesn’t have to be all done at the same time). Having a friend who accompanies you and supports you will be extremely helpful in keeping you on target. One woman I talked with said her husband got her up off the couch every night for a short walk and it did her a world of good.

As for diet, you want to make sure your body is not only getting the fuel it needs but is also able to use that fuel. That means a well-balanced diet with adequate fluids:  protein helps in repair, starches provide energy, and fruits and vegetables allow you to tap into that energy.

If you’re not able to eat three full meals per day, you can split them up into four to six smaller more frequent meals.  There isn’t anyone specific food that will do the trick. This is a team effort!

Don’t underestimate the need for adequate rest. You may need a nap during the day to keep you going. Along the same lines, reducing stress and experiencing joy is a wonderful way to stay energized. Stress reduction can be achieved with meditation, prayer, play, yoga, exercise, socializing, or whatever makes you happy.

Registered Dietitian Approved

Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

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