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Diet and Exercise


To learn more or request an appointment, call 305-243-4922 or
email Survivorship Care.


To learn more about cancer survivorship research at Sylvester, please call 305-243-3329 or
email Survivorship Research.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising is vital for gastrointestinal cancer survivors. They improve your digestive health and quality of life and lower your risk of recurrent cancer. At Sylvester, our experts will develop a personalized diet and exercise plan to help you lose weight and relieve side effects.

Improve your diet after gastrointestinal cancer

Our registered dietitians provide personalized support for gastrointestinal cancer survivors. They can design a meal plan that’s right for you and teach you strategies to improve digestion after your treatment is finished.

Diet tips for colorectal cancer survivors

A nutritious diet is an essential part of good health after colorectal cancer. You should aim for a diet that has:

  • Plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Nuts, beans, and fish as the primary sources of healthy fats
  • Minimal red meat, saturated fats, sugar, soft drinks, and simple carbohydrates like white bread

If you’re overweight, eat a diet that lets you lose weight gradually. Our dietitians can help develop a plan to lose weight and keep it off for good.

As a colorectal cancer survivor, you may have trouble with digestion and absorbing nutrients since part of your digestive tract has been removed. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and chewing food thoroughly helps improve digestion and nutrient absorption. Your doctor or dietitian may also recommend dietary supplements to ensure you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Always ask your doctor before taking a new supplement.

Diet tips for pancreatic cancer survivors

After a Whipple procedure to remove your pancreas, you may have digestive problems. You can prevent symptoms by avoiding certain foods that cause diarrhea or other issues and eating nutritious foods. Your dietitian may recommend you avoid high-sugar, high-fat meals and eating too much fiber at once.

Your doctor may also prescribe pancreatic enzymes, which help you digest food and prevent abdominal discomfort. You can also improve digestion by eating five or six smaller meals each day instead of three large meals.

Diet tips for gastric and esophageal cancer survivors

Gastric and esophageal cancer survivors who have surgery that removes all or part of the stomach can experience dumping syndrome, which happens when foods – particularly sugary food or liquids – move too quickly through your digestive system. It causes stomach cramps and diarrhea, and it may make you lose too much weight.

A registered dietitian can help you prevent dumping syndrome and other digestive problems by recommending small, high-calorie, high-fiber meals with little sugar. You should also drink most of your fluids between meals. Your dietitian or doctor may also recommend supplements to make sure you get all the nutrients you need.

Exercise advice for gastrointestinal cancer survivors

Try to exercise for 30 minutes every day. Even moderate exercise, like going for a walk, can positively impact your health and well-being. Exercise benefits include:

  • Higher energy and less fatigue
  • Improved digestion
  • Weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight
  • Fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Reduced risk of cancer recurrence

We can help make meeting your daily exercise goal easier with our eight-week U Survive & Thrive program. Physical therapists and trainers guide you through exercises to boost recovery after treatment and help you regain your strength. The program is a great way to help you incorporate exercise habits into your lifestyle – habits that enrich your health for a lifetime.

Smoking and alcohol cessation

Smoking or drinking alcohol during gastrointestinal cancer treatment can make therapy less effective and increase your risk for cancer recurrence. Your doctor will recommend you stop smoking entirely and drink very little alcohol – or stop drinking entirely.

Change can be difficult, but we’re here to help. We offer a variety of services to support lifestyle changes that make a positive difference in your health and well-being.

Sylvester Cancer Survivorship & Translational Behavioral Sciences