Meals As You Heal

by GregP_WN

The effects of radiation continue for weeks after treatment has been completed. We continue to research and test foods that will be enjoyable while at the same time provide enough calories and nutritional value.


 Barbara Bragg, Author of Destination Cancer Free

At three weeks post treatment, we began introducing solid food back into my husband’s diet very slowly. His doctors wanted him to maintain his weight eating by mouth alone for several weeks before they were willing to remove his feeding tube. After eating from a feeding tube for so long, a person’s stomach has some difficulty digesting “normal” food. He became full much more quickly and lost his appetite, midway through a meal.

We were given some general meal suggestions from our dietitian.

1. Eat foods with high calories and high protein content.
2. Include more fat to increase calories. A teaspoon of butter or oil adds one hundred calories.
3. Use whole milk when making shakes, oatmeal, etc. rather than water.
4. Eat six smaller meals per day rather than three large meals to aid with digestion.
5. Mix green vegetables with starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. Avocadoes are also a very good food due to high calorie content.
6. Do not eat favorite foods when you aren’t feeling well. The brain makes a negative connection between how you feel and the food.
7. Eat when you are feeling hungry. Most people have the greatest appetite at breakfast. However, Art had his largest meal at lunchtime.
8. Use high calorie, high protein powder mixes and meal supplements in-between meals.
9. Choose higher fat meats such as bacon and sausage.

His ever-changing taste buds continue to present a challenge at meal time. For example, although his taste for chocolate shakes never changed, his taste for chocolate ice cream did. Now, the only flavor ice cream he really likes is coffee. He used to be a big fan of cheese and crackers. Now, he doesn’t seem to be able to eat either, due to his mouth being so dry because his salivary glands were negatively impacted.

Breakfast foods are good to eat any time of the day. My husband is able to eat, eggs, pancakes, grits, waffles, yogurt, baby oatmeal (less lumps), shakes, cereal with whole milk and bananas and jarred baby food.Snacks include ice cream shakes, pudding, custard, protein shakes, high-calorie replacement meals.

Lunch items initially mirrored breakfast foods. After a few months he was able to add hot dogs, tuna fish with mayonnaise, grilled cheese, and creamed soups.

Dinner continues to be a challenge. However, we have found that the secret is to have a variety on his plate. Each night is a buffet! Small amounts of different foods seem to trick his taste buds and he is able to maintain flavor longer.

Receiving the proper nutrition during and after cancer treatment is important for strengthening and enhancing the immune system.
Both the patient and the caregiver encounter a variety of nutritional issues during and after cancer treatment.

With all the information on the internet, getting the right information about food can get confusing. I strongly suggest both the patient and the caregiver meet with a nutrition specialist, or as we did a registered dietitian to cut through the maze of misinformation and start off on the right track with nutrition.

Barbara Bragg is a WhatNexter, Wife, Author of Destination Cancer Free: Navigating the Challenges of Head and Neck Cancer and School Teacher. You can visit her WhatNext profile page by clicking HERE.

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