Lung cancer treatment can be hard on your appetite – nausea, trouble swallowing, and pain in the throat all come together to make eating difficult. Yet, it is important that you continue to eat well as good nutrition is a vital part of your recovery. The following tips can help you eat better while undergoing your treatment.
Tip #1: Choose soft foods
Soft foods are easier to swallow and less likely to irritate your tender throat. For example, opt for mashed potatoes instead of french fries, applesauce instead of sliced apples, poached chicken instead of fried drumsticks. Other soft food options include rice, most steamed vegetables, soft cheeses, and fruits like plums and peaches.
Tip #2: Avoid acidic foods and heavy spices
Acidic foods, like tomatoes, citrus fruits, and items brined in vinegar, can be very irritating to your throat during lung cancer treatment. Even if the food doesn't bother you immediately, it could cause pain later. The same goes for heavily spiced foods, including both fresh peppers and dried peppers, as well as hot sauces.
Tip #3: Graze all day
When fighting the nausea of treatment, it's a better idea to eat a little bit at a time instead of trying to keep down three full meals. Have plenty of "grazing" foods on hand at all time. This includes vegetables that have already been steamed, portions of soup that just need a quick reheating, and proteins like boiled eggs or peanut butter. A few bites here and there will add up to several full meals over the course of a day.
Tip #4: Drink your calories
If you just can't bring yourself to eat, consider drinking your calories instead. Smoothies topped up with plenty of fruit and vegetables can give you a nutrition-packed punch. Milkshakes are another option, especially if you bulk them out with a bit of protein powder. You can even purchase vitamin drinks to help replace nutrients, or sip on warm broth to provide some nutrients as well as calories.
Tip #5: Set a calorie goal
Getting enough daily calories is a vital part of your eventual recovery. Too few calories weakens you so you can heal as well or rebound quickly from treatments. Work with your doctor to set a daily calorie goal. Sometimes having something to work towards will make it easier to get and keep the food you need down.
For more help, talk with your lung cancer treatment center for more dietary advice.