Diet during your cancer treatment is extremely important because all you want is to feel good! Feel good in that moment stands for feel as healthy as possible, no pain, have a taste, no tiredness, etc. I was diagnosed with cancer nearly a year ago and shortly after that I started chemotherapy treatment. Doctors are telling you how important diet will be from now on and what you should eat BUT one thing is theory, other thing is reality and experience.
When they said chemotherapy, I just thought everyone has sort of the same drug. NOT. Different drugs means different side effects for your digestive system and eating habits connected to either feeling sick, have diarrhoea or constipation, or feeling in pain – your mouth and neck included. As I needed different types of drugs and their combinations I experienced various side effects. Therefore, I would like to share which food and diet I found optimal during different stages of treatment and it’s side effects. Next time I will include recipes too!
I would say vomiting is top-of-mind side effect when you think about chemotherapy. Well yes, however, there are so strong anti-sickness pills available that you do not necessarily vomit but you still feel sick. Which food was suitable when I was feeling sick? Not very wide choice…
- plain pasta with cheese
- spaghetti bolognese
- soups – with not very strong taste – leek and potato, broccoli, chicken broth
- fruity tea
- stir-fry vegetable with rice
- porridge with banana
When feeling sick we tend to eat plain food, white flour, not really rich in grains and pulses. This combination does not benefit to our digestive system. On the top of that, anti-sickness pills has negative effect on digestion and causing constipation. Those two factors can result in one outcome – constipation and stomach pain for several days. I was eating lots of dried prunes that helped me during those days (lot means more then 5 pieces a day along with coffee) as I am not very good calling to hospital and asking for laxatives.
Having ulcers in mouth is not pleasant for anybody but ulcers during chemotherapy are at different level. Problems occur when ulcers appear in neck (you cannot swallow) and tongue (you cannot move your tongue so you cannot eat) – it is so painful that you do not want to eat at all. Therefore, you better have any “watery” food – smoothies, soups, yogurts and juices but cannot contain irritating food such as tomato, salt, or oranges. It is easy to say but more difficult to do – I was able not to eat for 3 days as it was so painful – this I do not recommend and neither your doctor will. But try to have at least something.
- full fat yogurts
- fruity and vegetable smoothies – no oranges or limes, strawberries, pineapple and similar
- creamy soups – those will fill you up. Should not contain tomatoes
- eat ice cubes
Similar as ulcers, sore throat is unpleasant and you just do not want to swallow anything, water included. The best is anything warm:
- fruity teas
- warm soups
Sore mouth lead to lack of interest into food overall as you have no taste and you loss the taste. The loss of interest into food may lead into eating anything as your brain cannot associate food with any kind of pleasure. This effect is not healthy for your mental health. Try to social with people and go for dinner or lunch, it means you will at least consume some calories and won’t end up starving.
- spicy food – Curry or Mexican
- strong taste soups such as roasted peppers, tomato soup
- Chinese stir-fry
- fruit salad with mango, pineapple
It all looks simple but it is more difficult for people suffering from those (and not only the very few listed) side effects. But I feel those side effects are the ones connected to our eating habits and behaviour during the treatment (regardless the type of cancer). Food and diet is under our control with little help and guidance what is good for us. Every little thing may make our days better and more manageable. This is the thing you can influence. Eating balanced diet helps you with energy, with maintaining vitamins and minerals in your body and weight, which is all important during the treatment.
I hope that article is helpful at least for someone as it is coming from my own experience. However, you should consult with your doctor or hospital staff if you have any concerns about your diet while having treatment.