Coffee or Tea? What to drink while you are on chemotherapy

Some chemotherapies can be a little rough on your digestive system and are not really compatible with coffee or tea, which are both thought to contribute to acid reflux.  There is some evidence that it is the caffeine in these drinks that may cause the problem, it could also be the somewhat acidic nature of both coffee and tea.

Speak with your doctor for advice about whether you need to avoid both these drinks altogether while you are on treatment.  It can vary for different people and different treatment protocols, but in many cases you will probably be more comfortable if you can forego the coffee and tea during the weeks you are in treatment.

However, most of us like to enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea in the morning to help us start the day. So what to do?

If you’ve spoken with your doctor about this topic, and he/she is recommending you avoid these drinks, it is usually easier to cut back over the course of a few days before you go “cold turkey.”  You can also ask if you can switch to decaffeinated tea, but please don’t drink peppermint or mint tea, as they too can trigger acid reflux.  Finally, don’t go for any “health” teas which act like a supplement unless you have cleared it with your doctor first. Supplements in general are not recommended when you have breast cancer (or other cancers).  More on this topic soon.

Some people are able to tolerate some teas during breast cancer treatment, so after you’ve spoken to your doctor and been cleared to try some alternatives in the morning, take notes and see how you do. That way you’ll be ready to get into a new morning routine when you start chemotherapy.

Hi, I am

Barbara Spalding MS, RDN, Culinary Dietitian

As a dietitian and world traveler, I love bold flavors — in food and in life. 14 years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole into Breast Cancer Wonderland. Since then, I’ve learned to cook differently while savoring the pleasures of food and companionship. I’ve built a resilient new life and a bold new kitchen. Let me show you the flavors of the world.
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