The challenge of a mouth cancer diet is your ability to eat enough of the right nutritional foods even while living with the side effects of treatment. To meet the challenge you may need to change the way you eat your food.
Body Reactions to Treatment
Once you've been through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, many of your body's healthy cells may be damaged or destroyed. Your body needs a higher amount of nutrition to repair the cells. Without this nutritional boost, you could face malnutrition. Malnutrition occurs when your body is forced to pull nutritional supplies from your fat or muscle tissue, because it is not getting enough in the food you eat and drink.
Often people stop eating or only eat a limited variety of foods when going through cancer treatment. This prevents them from getting the nutrition they need.
You need to maintain a diet rich in nutritional foods including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grain breads and cereals
- Lean chicken, turkey and fish
- Low-fat dairy products
You should cut back on salt, fat, alcohol and sugar. These items not only affect blood pressure, kidney function and your heart - but tests have shown that sugars can actually feed a tumor.
Lack of Interest in Eating
You will probably find that the treatments you are receiving make it difficult to eat the proper foods. You may be experiencing:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Blistered mouth or throat
- Dry mouth
- Changes in the taste of the food or in your ability to taste the food
The National Cancer Institute reports that about one-third of all cancer deaths are due to malnutrition. Your survival depends on your ability to maintain proper nutritional levels, even when side effects are debilitating.
Mouth Cancer Diet Tips
No specific mouth cancer diet exists. Your doctor or dietician will recommend that you concentrate on developing an eating plan that makes sure you receive vitamins and minerals your body will need to have a balanced diet.
You may find it difficult to eat with oral cancer. Nausea, soreness and loss of appetite may take away your will to eat, but these difficulties can be overcome with a few healthy eating tips:
- Eat small meals.
- Eat the most when your feel the best, such as in the morning or mid-day.
- Rinse your mouth before eating to get rid of any unusual tastes.
- Take very small bites and chew the food until it is liquefied in your mouth.
Eating After Radiation
As radiation treatments continue, you may find that you are unable to tolerate some foods and that your mouth is too sensitive to enjoy eating. You can combat this by:
- Avoiding acidic or strongly spiced foods
- Using plastic utensils if you are experiencing metallic tastes
- Trying soft or moist foods that are easier to chew and swallow. Poaching fish in liquids or adding creams and gravies to foods will make them easier to chew and swallow.
- Avoiding foods that adhere to the roof or sides of the mouth
Eating After Chemo
- Sip fluids throughout the day, particularly if your mouth is blistered.
- Avoid strong aromas that might increase your nausea.
- Avoid hot foods, particularly those with steam. Steam carries nausea-producing aromas.
- If eating or chewing solid food becomes too painful, sip nutritional supplement drinks such as Boost or Ensure.
- Make blender drinks from fresh fruits combined with soy or whey protein powders.
Extra Nutritional Insurance with Supplements
Your doctor and dietician will want you to get as many nutrients as possible from whole foods; however, they may also recommend that you supplement your eating by adding powdered or liquid nutritional supplements to blender drinks. Be sure and ask them for their ideas on what you should be eating and in what quantities.