Eating On Chemo

Food

One of my main difficulties in hospital was eating. I absolutely LOVE food but when my chemo started, anything even remotely edible seemed like my worst enemy.

This was because of two reasons:

1) Most of the time, I felt sick & the thought of eating made me want to puke…

2) …and if I wasn’t feeling nauseous & actually fancied something, my mouth was full of ulcers so it was extremely painful!

But don’t fear – it’s not all bad.

I was told by my doctors that I could eat anything I wanted because they basically just wanted me to keep my weight up – enter Domino’s pizza! There were so many margherita pizzas in my life which was my absolute dream at the time.

Twelve years on and more aware of the importance of nutrition, I would try to keep my intake of green veg up, rather than my garlic and herb dips! There were some good foods amongst the rubbish, I promise, but I dropped nearly two stone on chemo so the most important thing at that time was literally keeping my weight up to have more treatment.

I did start to struggle with my eating habits, so here are my tips for anyone who’s finding it hard to keep their appetite:

  • Firstly, the advice that my doctors gave me may not necessarily be the same advice they give you so don’t stock up on Domino’s vouchers just yet! They may tell you to try and eat healthier or you may decide that you’d prefer to have a healthy diet anyway.
  • If you’re having chemo & you’re eating out (even at McDonalds!), ask for all of your food to be cooked fresh. You’re more susceptible to picking up infections so you can’t take any risks.
  • Ask about anti-sickness tablets if you’re battling with nausea & ask about changing your anti-sickness drugs if they don’t seem to be working for you.
  • Eating little & often was best for me – I used to get strange cravings for things & then feel the need to eat straight away! So eat as much as you can when you’re feeling up to it but don’t overdo it.
  • My doctor gave me a powder supplement to put on food (such as cereal or porridge) that increased my weight gain too so perhaps ask about this if you feel as though you’re losing a significant amount of weight.
  • In terms of mouth ulcers, I was given a spray called Diflam spray that numbed my mouth so that I was able to eat & advised to buy Corsodyl – a mouthwash you can pick up at any pharmacy – which helped a lot. It does sting but it shrinks ulcers quickly & is worth the extra pain.
  • Nesquik strawberry milkshake also helped to line my mouth a little bit more before I ate & was very refreshing in the summer months.
  • Obviously, soup was one of the easiest things to eat but any food that’s got a soft texture will be your friend at this point.
  • There wasn’t always bad days – I remember eating quite a lot of crisps when my mouth wasn’t hurting & lots of sausage batter & chips so remain optimistic 🙂
  • And speaking all of the rubbish I ate, please do actually try to incorporate as many healthy and nutritious foods as you can into your diet. I’ve since realised how much food can work in your favour if you eat the right things. Look for organic, locally grown fruit and veg if you can & try out some juicing recipes. I got a juicer for about £27 on Amazon & I have so much more energy on the days I make a green juice.
  • It doesn’t matter how slowly you eat, as long as you are still eating!

If you’re struggling with eating, ask to see a nutritionist who can help with your food planning & if you suffer anxiety over it (as I did) ask to see a psychologist – it helped me.

Keep your head up,

Allie

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