One of many possible side effects of cancer treatment is difficulty eating. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can both cause nausea and other issues that make it difficult if not impossible to eat normal foods. Some people also find that foods taste different or less appealing during and after cancer treatments.
But getting enough nutrition is critical to helping your body heal. Try these tips and cancer diet suggestions to help make sure you get enough to eat.
• Eat more often – Smaller portions may be easier to eat and digest. Eat 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones.
• New foods – If your old foods are not appealing, try new or different foods to help you stay interested in eating.
• Distractions – If eating is difficult, it might help take your mind off the food to eat with friends or family, or to watch television while you eat.
• Food choices - Choose healthful foods that provide a good variety of nutrients. If you are having a hard time eating, higher calorie foods may help provide the energy you need while letting you eat smaller portions. If chewing or swallowing is difficult, soft foods such as cream soups and milkshakes may go down better.
• Liquids – It is important to drink plenty of liquids, but it is also important not to fill up on liquids just before or during a meal.
• Exercise – Moving around and being active can help stimulate your appetite to help you eat.
If it is hard to eat because you are sick to your stomach, be sure to take your anti-nausea medicine. If it isn’t working, talk to your health care provider. You might need a different medication or might need to take it at a different time of day.
Try these tips to help settle your stomach:
• Food choices – Try to choose foods that are easier on your stomach, such as clear liquids including soup broth, plain chicken without the skin, crackers, gelatin, popsicles, canned fruit, noodles, pretzels, or white rice.
• Liquids – It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you have vomited.