Coping with a sore mouth can be one of the more unpleasant and difficult cancer treatment side effects. The discomfort can run from oral canker sores caused by chemo drugs, to burns to the mouth and throat caused by head and neck radiation treatment that are so painful that eating and swallowing become nearly impossible. If that’s the case, don’t be brave, don’t wait. Let your medical team know ASAP if you’re having difficulties. Staying nourished and maintaining your weight is important during cancer treatment, and in these circumstances a feeding tube may be necessary to help you. There are a number of strategies you can use to ease the discomfort. Blending and pureeing your food is the first line of attack. It’s important however to use a high speed blender as immersion blenders and food processors can still leave food with a little too much texture for a sensitive, sore mouth or throat.
Here are some basic tips that can make eating a little easier:
- Eat foods that are bland
- Avoid eating highly acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus
- Avoid eating spicy hot foods, like chiles
- Eat either very soft or pureed foods like soups or smoothies, so that can they be easily swallowed
- If treatment has made your mouth very dry, try adding soft fatty foods to blended drinks and soups. Think: avocado, full-fat Greek yogurt, silken tofu, cream cheese or even butter and heavy cream. They will make the food easier to swallow and to add much needed calories.
- Most veggie soups can be pureed or liquidized for easier swallowing even if the recipe doesn’t call for it.
- Don’t eat food that is too hot in temperature. Warm, room temperature or cold are best.
- Sucking on ice cubes or shaved ice can be soothing. Non-acidic popsicles and slushies can be a boon.
- If you have continued weight loss, speak to your doctor or registered dietitian. They may recommend that you supplement your intake with some nutritional supplements. Try different varieties until you find flavors that you enjoy.
Here are some easy on the palate recipes: