Nutrition & Dieting/Anemia


I am a breast cancer patient who last year was diagnosed with mets to the bone and ovary. I am on maintenance and the cancer seems under control at this point.  Ever since my hysterectomy my appetite has been almost non-existent.  At one time I had to go on appetite stimulants and I am trying to avoid it again.

My BMI is in the low normal range. ( 5ft 5 in / 120 lbs) I am mostly vegetarian with very infrequent consumption of chicken or fish. I have a lot of food aversions. For example, if I see a giant portion of food--I am DONE.  If I smell a potent food...DONE.  If I feel like I over eat something I am DONE. Often, the act of preparing the food is enough to put me off.

The problem is that I am not consistently getting enough good nutrition in and I am anemic. I was told to take B12 by my Oncologist so I am doing that. But I had done so well in slowly increasing my hemoglobin from a 7 to a 12---and now I am back to 10.  This is where I start to get headaches and dizziness.  So, I need to make a better effort in my diet. Do I give up on the vegetarianism?  Any tips for the aversions? Thanks,  Misha

Hi Michelle,

I applaud you for taking care of yourself and following through with a healthy, nutritious diet.  While you are going through cancer treatments it is typical to feel the side effects of nausea and loss of appetite.  Getting enough iron in your diet as a vegetarian is a common problem but not one that cannot be resolved with a little change .  

You can try a bowl of fortified cereal with silk or soy milk if that is appealing. Try a handful of nuts as a snack.  You don't mention what type of vegetarianism you adhere to but eggs, cheese and yogurt are other options with high B12 content.  

I would also suggest spreading your meals or snacks throughout the day so you are not overwhelmed by the amount on your plate.  Continue to follow the advice of your Oncologist and monitor your hemoglobin. Eat what makes you feel your personal best.  Hope this helps.

Healthy regards

Nutrition & Dieting

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Stacy Ostrager, M.A.,M.S.


I am qualified to answer your questions on nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, disease management,obesity and obesity related issues. I am experienced with nutrition aspect of managing the following: Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, pregnancy, allergies, IBS, diabetes, heart disease, fitness, wellness, healthy cooking, and many more.


Over 20 years in premier hospitals, consulting and private counseling practice for nutrition.

New York State Dietetic Association, Long Island Dietetic Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Center for Science of Public Interest

Masters of Healthcare Administration from Hofstra University (Hempstead, N.Y.) 1999 Masters of Science in Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University (Ypslanti, M.I.) 2012 Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from Ithaca College (Ithaca, N.Y) 1994

Past/Present Clients
NYU Medical Center, Long Island Jewish Medical Center

©2016 All rights reserved.