Eating right during carcinoid syndrome treatment

Diet and carcinoid syndrome

Leigh Anne K. Burns MS, RD, LDN discusses the importance of nutrition when managing carcinoid syndrome.

What you eat can help you control and improve the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome you experience.

With neuroendocrine tumors, smart nutrition may not necessarily be the same as the “balanced diet” you needed before your NET diagnosis.

Your doctors and other members of your healthcare team, such as a dietitian, can help you determine a diet that’s right for you; however there are some common foods you may want to avoid.

You will want to avoid foods that contain high levels of serotonin, such as some nuts, bananas, pineapples and tomatoes, especially before having a 5-HIAA urine test.

Avoid foods that contain high amounts of mines, nitrogen-containing organic compounds, as they can trigger the release of serotonin and other hormones. These foods include fatty meats, smoked or salted fish, aged cheeses, and even chocolate.

There are other changes you can make to your diet to better manage symptoms. For instance, you will want to consider portion size in your meals, as smaller, more frequent meals will be easier for your body to digest. This may lessen the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome you experience.

Spicy foods, caffeine, fructose, and alcoholic beverages should be phased out of your diet to help you manage carcinoid syndrome symptoms.

Foods Reported to Provoke Reactions

Foods to avoid and foods to enjoy



Animal crackers or pretzels
Butter cookies and doughnuts
Bland foods
Spicy foods (curry, hot pepper)
Chicken or turkey (skinless white meat), beef, or fish
Dairy foods (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese)
Clear broth (chicken or beet)
Creamy soups
Decaffeinated beverages
Beverages that contain caffeine (coffee, tea, hot chocolate)
Hard candy or pound cake
Caffeinated foods (chocolate candy, brownies)
Jam or jelly
High-fat spreads (butter, cream cheese)
Lactose-free beverages such as soy milk or lactose-free dairy products
Non-alcoholic beverages
Beverages with alcohol
Noncarbonated drinks
Juices with pulp or carbonated beverages such as clear fruit juices with a lot of fizz
Pedialyte, Gatorade*, and other electrolyte-replacement drinks
High-sugar drinks or carbohydrate-Ioading sports drinks
Rice, pasta, or potatoes without the skin
High-fiber vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and beans
Rice, wheat, or oatmeal cereal
High fiber cereals containing bran or whole grain
Ripe bananas, pureed vegetables, and canned or cooked fruits such as applesauce or pears
Raw vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, pickles, relishes, nuts, and popcorn
White bread
Whole grain breads

*Pedialyte is a registered trademark of Abbott laboratories. Gatorade is a registered trademark of The Gatorade Company.

It’s important to remember that each person with carcinoid syndrome is unique.

Your doctors and other members of your healthcare team, such as a dietitian, will help you determine a diet that’s right for you.

Leigh Ann K. Burns MS, RD, LDN, outlines key factors in developing a proper nutrition program.

Get more information about carcinoid syndrome

Find resources, including videos, articles, and support information in our carcinoid syndrome resource library.