Managing Eating Problems
Information provided by Hematology-Oncology Associates of the Quad-Cities, PC ©2008

Good nutrition can be affected by poor mouth care, fatigue, pain, fever, as well as the side-effects of cancer treatment. The goal is to know how to combat these symptoms and maintain an adequate diet.

Loss of appetite (Anorexia)
• Make every bite count-choose high calorie and protein foods.
• Eat 5-6 small meals daily.
• Eat with others, you may find you are able to relax and enjoy your meals more if you socialize with family and friends.
• Do not stop eating because you have lost your appetite. Make a concentrated effort to eat regularly even when you are not hungry.
• Exercise may improve appetite; take a small walk before meals.

Difficulty swallowing (Dysphagia)
• Eat a variety of soft, easy-to-swallow foods such as soups, eggs, pastas, cheese dishes, quiches, dairy products and liquid meals (i.e. Boost, Ensure).
• Take smaller bites of food and small sips of beverages.
• Chew foods thoroughly.
• Avoid dry meat, plain rice, bread, raw vegetables, dried fruits and nuts.

Nausea & Vomiting
• Eat small meals more often.
• Dry, salty foods such as Ritz crackers and toast may help settle your stomach.
• Cold foods, and foods low in fat, may be easier for your stomach to handle.
• Arrange for someone else to cook for you or go out for your meals.
• If the odor of the food itself makes you feel squeamish, eat foods at room temperature-the odor will be gone. Eat in a well-ventilated room.

Diarrhea
• Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day to replace fluids and electrolytes. Try Gatorade or other sports drinks.
• Avoid greasy, fried, spicy or very sweet foods. Limit milk to 2 cups daily.
• Avoid raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds and citrus juices.
• Eat foods high in soluble fiber such as applesauce, rice and bananas.

Constipation
• Drink plenty of fluids. Try water, prune juice and warm beverages.
• Eat high fiber foods or add a fiber supplement to your diet.
• Eat at regular times each day.
• Increase exercise, take a walk after eating.

Dry mouth (xerostomia)
• Eat soft foods; add gravies, sauces, broth, salad dressing, sour cream or mayonnaise to make foods moist.
• Dunk dry foods in soup or beverages.
• Try artificial saliva, or before eating swish and swallow a small mouthful of olive oil or vegetable oil. This will lubricate the mouth and esophagus for about 15 minutes.
• Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol or peroxide.
• Mix ½-1 teaspoon of salt or baking soda with a glass of warm water. “Swish and spit” with this solution 4-5 times daily.

Mouth sores (stomatitis)
• Drink plenty of liquids to help keep your mouth moist.
• Avoid citrus and acidic foods and beverages such as tomatoes and oranges.
• Cold or frozen foods can help your mouth feel better.
• Good mouth care is important. Mix ½-1 teaspoon of salt or baking soda with a glass of warm water. “Swish and spit” with this solution 4-5 times daily.
• Try foods like creamy soups or casseroles, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, egg salad, creamy pasta dishes and mashed potatoes with gravy.

Alterations in taste and smell
• Suck on mints or lemon candy to keep mouth fresh.
• Use plastic silverware if a metallic taste is present.
• If red meat taste bitter, marinate it before cooking in wine, fruit juice, soy sauce or any other meat marinates.
• If food seems to lack flavor, add extra spices and herbs while cooking.
• Change the temperature of foods. Frequently, foods will taste better chilled or frozen.
• Good mouth care is important. Mix ½-1 teaspoon of salt or baking soda with a glass of warm water. “Swish and spit” with this solution 4-5 times daily.
• Check with your dentist to rule out any dental problems.
• Eat in a well ventilated room.

Feeling of fullness
• Eat small amounts of food 6-8 times a day.
• Sip fluids with meals. Drink the majority of fluids between meals to avoid feeling bloated at mealtime.
• Take a walk or exercise between meals.
• Eat slowly in a pleasant setting.Note: no space for the text!