Cooking the food that I like
Therapeutic developments in Head and Neck Cancer have significantly increased treatment success and survival. But people who were treated and survived from cancer in the mouth, head and neck often have problems with eating and drinking, which affect both their physical health and psychological wellbeing.
- Difficulties with eating, such as sticking food on the cheeks, choking, biting the tongue
- Difficulties in swallowing, such as food coming out of the nose, feeling of overproducing saliva in the mouth, repeated chest infections, weight loss, food sticking to the back of the throat, coughing, etc.
In the post-treatment period, soft or liquid food diet may be needed. The difficulty of eating solid foods may, however, cause anorexia, which may increase the risk for malnutrition and weight loss. It is, thus, important to increase calorie intake and to consume higher calorie versions of normal foods.
Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is another potentially serious complication of radiotherapy, which also makes eating difficult.
Annoying symptoms of dry mouth can be relieved by:
- Small, frequent sips of water
- A moist diet and adding plenty of sauces to food
Some treatments can affect the ability to taste and smell properly. The food may have a metallic taste, bitter or salty, accompanied by a stinging or burning sensation. Usually these problems go away over time.
Eating and drinking are essential to everyday life and at the center of nearly everything we do. Lack of the confidence to eat in the presence of others, can have a detrimental effect on a person’s return to an active social life. These social and psychological side effects of treatment are not visible, but they can be long lasting and equally impactful.
Furthermore, studies have shown that reduced calorie intake is associated with less success in treatment and reduced quality of life. Patients should be advised to consult a nutritionist.
In conclusion, proper and adequate nutrition is vital for the patient with Head and Neck Cancer.
Some diet tips:
- Blend and/or strain fruits and add full-fat yogurt
- Drink whole milk
- Add grated cheese to your food
- Increase the consumption of extra virgin olive oil
- Use a straw
Softer foods such as fish, boiled/casseroled meat, cooked vegetables, and bananas can easily be mashed. Take your time, while preparing your meals and be patient. You will see that the situation is improving day by day.
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Please also read: You know you have to eat to survive