Contact our breast care nurses 0808 800 6000

Healthy eating after breast cancer treatment

Learn about healthy eating after breast cancer treatment, including managing your weight, looking after your bones, and whether you need supplements.

1. Weight changes after breast cancer treatment

After treatment for breast cancer, you may have gained or lost weight.

It can be helpful to speak with your breast care nurse, GP or practice nurse. They can assess if your current weight is healthy and determine your body mass index (BMI). They’ll also discuss your current diet and lifestyle and can help you put a plan together if changes are required.

2. How can I lose weight after breast cancer treatment?

You tend to put on weight when the amount of calories you eat is more than the amount of calories you burn through everyday activities and exercise.

You may put on weight during and after treatment due to:

  • The side effects of some drugs, which can increase appetite
  • The body retaining fluid
  • Being less active than usual
  • Eating more than usual when you’re anxious or because your usual routine has changed
  • The menopause (as a result of your treatment)

How to lose weight safely

If you want to lose weight after treatment, aim for a realistic weight loss of about 0.5 to 1kg (1 to 2 pounds) a week. You can do this by making small changes to your usual eating and exercise habits.

Try to:

  • Follow the Eatwell Guide and eat a varied, balanced diet
  • Avoid keeping too many unhealthy snacks like sweets in the house – try popcorn, rice cakes or fruit instead
  • Reduce your portion sizes – using a smaller plate can help
  • Be active for 150 minutes a week – you can break this up, for example into 25-minute sessions
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Swap sugary drinks for water – you could add some sugar-free squash for extra flavour
  • Choose healthier options when eating out and remember that takeaways can be high in fat and calories
  • Avoid skipping meals or extreme dieting
  • Ask a friend or family member to help support and motivate you – they could join you for healthy meals or workouts

Some pharmacies offer a free weight management service to assess your weight and give you advice and support.

Your GP can also recommend and refer you to local support services. They may also refer you to a dietitian.

Weight loss programmes

You may find joining a local weight loss scheme or club, or following a healthy eating plan helpful. Examples include:

As well as eating a healthy diet, you can try to do some regular, moderate-intensity exercise. Find out more about exercising during and after treatment.

3. How can I put on weight after breast cancer treatment?

If you’ve lost weight during your treatment, some simple changes to your diet can help.

To put on weight in a healthy way, you need to eat more calories and more protein. Adding an extra 300 to 500 calories a day is a good aim.

You can also try to:

  • Eat 3 meals and some snacks throughout the day, based on the Eatwell Guide – you could also try eating smaller meals more frequently
  • Have more protein-rich foods like lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses (such as lentils and beans)
  • Eat healthy fats such as avocados, olive or rapeseed oil, and unsalted peanut butter
  • Drink high-calorie drinks like milkshakes. Adding milk powder or protein powder to drinks or food may also help
  • Have snacks that don’t need preparation at home, like yoghurt pots
  • Avoid drinking lots of fluid before a meal because this might make you feel full
  • Build up your muscles with exercise like strength training or yoga

Your GP can prescribe high-protein or high-energy drinks and soups if you need extra help to gain weight, or they may refer you to a dietitian.

4. Bone health after breast cancer treatment

Treatments such as or can sometimes affect bone health. This can increase your risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis, conditions that affect the bones.

It’s important to get enough calcium from your diet as calcium is vital for healthy bones. Find out more about looking after your bones during and after treatment.

5. Supplements during and after breast cancer treatment

If you’re struggling to get essential nutrients or vitamins from your diet during or after treatment, your GP may prescribe a dietary supplement. For example, if your bone health has been affected, they may prescribe a calcium or vitamin D supplement.

However, unless you’re having problems recovering from treatment, you do not need to take supplements.

Some people wonder whether certain supplements, such as vitamins, herbal remedies or probiotics, might help ease their symptoms or treatment side effects. But there’s conflicting evidence about the safety and effectiveness of many products.

Supplements do not have to comply with the same regulations or go through the same rigorous testing as conventional medicines. They may also affect how certain cancer treatments work, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Talk to your breast care nurse, treatment team or GP before taking any supplements or other treatments bought over the counter or online.

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?
Please tell us what you liked about it.
Please tell us why.
We’re sorry you didn’t find this helpful.
Please do not include personal details and be aware we cannot respond to comments.

Quality assurance

Last reviewed in May 2024. The next planned review begins in May 2026.

  • support-cta-icon-telephone

    Call our free helpline

    If you have any concerns about breast cancer, or just want to talk, our specialist nurses are here for you.

    Lines open: Monday to Friday - 9am to 4pm; Saturday - 9am to 1pm

  • support-cta-icon-email

    Explore ways to talk to our nurses

    It can be difficult to talk to someone in person about breast cancer concerns. Explore other ways you can ask a question.

Share this page