Many patients face issues with sore mouth during cancer treatment, which can lead to them following a soft diet. While soft diets are helpful, they can be ‘nutrient dilute’ meaning that eating enough calories to maintain weight is difficult.
If you are eating a soft diet and find you are losing weight, it is a good idea to ‘fortify’ your foods, meaning you add extra nutrition to them to make every bite count. Try the tips below, and be sure to consult your doctor if you have ongoing weight loss.
Remember, the tips below are just a guide which may help you find foods your enjoy, however it is important to follow the guidance of your doctor and speech pathologist regarding the safest texture for you, particularly if you require thickened fluids.
Chop or blend your food to help it go down easier. When blending foods, use nutritious liquids like milk and gravy rather than water. This will add in more flavor and nutrients, helping you to stay nourished. Also make sure that you invest in a good quality blender- it’s worth it!
Choose full fat products to begin with, and go for higher calorie options. E.g. choose creamed soups instead of broths, use high calorie sauces like pesto and be generous with your servings!
Make up a jug of fortified milk to use in drinks, soups and sauces. Simply add one cup of dried skimmed milk to one quart of whole milk, and use this milk whenever you would use regular milk. Discard after 24 hours.
Add a scoop of protein powders such as whey or pea protein to your smoothies for an extra nutrient boost.
Add nut butters to your smoothies, hot cereals, puddings, or yogurts for some healthy monounsaturated fats.
If you do not have a sore mouth fruit juices can be another great way to get additional calories into your smoothies- try different types such as orange, cranberry or apple to see what flavors you prefer.
For a quick boost of calories, add one tablespoon of oil of choice (we like heart-healthy olive oil) to sauces or savory sides like our mashed rutabaga or mashed potato-this simple addition will boost the energy content of your meal by 100 calories.
Cream is your friend. Sour cream can be added to mashed potatoes for a delicious twist. Add two tablespoons of heavy cream to puddings, soups and smoothies to boost the energy intake by 100 calories. Try adding cream to our banana pudding for an extra boost (just omit the shortbread cookies). These lavender poached apples with tahini cream are also a great high-calorie option to try.
If you are struggling, liquids can be easier to manage. Try our high protein hot chocolate or chocolate coconut smoothie, thickened as per your medical recommendations. Your doctor or dietitian may also recommend nutritional supplements. It is important to try different ones to see which you prefer, as there are many on the market. Don’t forget that these supplements can be mixed into other meals to fortify them, which is particularly important if you do not like the taste of the supplements. Try mixing them into the smoothie recipes above.
Check out our ‘easy to swallow’ recipes for more food inspiration-bon appétit!