If you are going through treatment for cancer, there's a good chance you'll have eating problems at some point. Both
radiation and chemotherapy can affect the cells in your mouth and digestive tract or make you so tired that eating feels like
a lot of work. If you feel nauseous, smaller meals and eating easy-to-digest foods like pretzels, saltines and rice might
help. Be sure to talk to your medical team about your nutrition questions and concerns. There are ways you can combat some
other common eating challenges that come along with cancer treatment. Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you optimize
nutrition and minimize stress during your treatment.
Include protein at every meal. Protein helps your body repair damaged cells, prevent
infections and slow weight and muscle loss. For extra protein between meals, snack on nuts, yogurt, cheese or hard-boiled
eggs. Other protein-rich options: add beans to soups and salads or top casseroles or vegetable dishes with nuts, crumbled
hard-boiled eggs or cheese.
Stoke your appetite. If you don't feel like eating, fresh air and physical activity may boost
your hunger. When you do eat, go for small portions, which won't seem so overwhelming. Try a smoothie or some soup if solid
foods aren't appetizing. Make the most of mornings, when appetite and energy levels are often highest.
Experiment with different tastes. Cancer treatments can affect how food tastes. To lessen
metallic taste, avoid canned foods, use plastic utensils and glass cookware, and add a squeeze of lemon or a little vinegar
to meals. Tame bitter flavors with a little salt or sugar. Try new dishes and play with spices.
Seek out easy-to-swallow foods. Dry mouth and a sore throat are common side effects of
chemotherapy and radiation. Try soft foods like pasta, soups, stews, yogurt, fruits and well-cooked vegetables and purees.
Alternatively, moisten your foods with gravies and sauces. Your health-care team can help you with other solutions like
soothing mouth rinses and "thickeners" to add to foods so they're easier to get down.