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Diet Tips for Coping With Side Effects of Treatment of Mesothelioma

Treatment for mesothelioma, or any cancer, often carries with it, painful and uncomfortable side effects for patients. The most common side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which make a healthy diet difficult for patients. Below are nutritional suggestions for coping with common cancer symptoms such as anorexia, taste changes, dry mouth and mouth sores and infections:

Anorexia (lack of appetite)

  • Eat small high-protein, high-calorie meals every 1-2 hours throughout the day
  • Ask for help when preparing meals
  • Add extra calories & protein to food (butter, skim milk powder, honey, brown sugar)
  • Drink liquid supplements such as soup, milk, juices, shakes or smoothies when you can't eat solids
  • Have food ready at-hand for when hunger strikes
  • Make breakfast your largest meal of the day
  • Avoid eating food with strong odors
  • Try different recipes to accommodate changing likes and dislikes

Taste Changes

  • Rinse mouth out with water before eating
  • Try eating citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit) unless mouth sores are present
  • Eat small meals & healthy snacks several times a day when hungry rather than establishing set meal times
  • Use plastic utensils if foods taste metallic
  • Try favorite foods
  • Eat with family and friends
  • Have others prepare the meal
  • Try new foods when feeling best
  • Substitute poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese for red meat
  • Find non-meat, high-protein recipes in a vegetarian or Chinese cookbook
  • Use sugar-free lemon drops, gum or mints if there is a metallic or bitter taste in the mouth
  • Add spices and sauces to food
  • Eat meat with something sweet, such as cranberry sauce, jelly, or applesauce

Dry Mouth

  • Drink plenty of fluids (about ½ ounce per pound of body weight per day)
  • Eat moist foods with extra sauces, gravies, butter or margarine
  • Suck on hard candy or chew gum
  • Eat frozen desserts (such as frozen grapes and ice pops) or ice chips
  • Clean teeth (including dentures) and rinse mouth at least four times per day (after each meal and before bedtime)
  • Keep water handy at all times to moisten the mouth
  • Choose foods and drinks that are very sweet or tart, to stimulate saliva
  • Avoid mouth rinses containing alcohol
  • Drink fruit nectar instead of juice
  • Use a straw to drink liquids

Mouth Sores and Infections

  • Eat soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow such as bananas, applesauce, cottage cheese, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, puddings, and scrambled eggs
  • Use a blender to process vegetables and meats until smooth
  • Avoid rough, course or dry foods such as raw vegetables, granola, and toast
  • Avoid spicy, salty or acidic foods
  • Avoid citrus fruits and juices
  • Cook foods until soft and tender
  • Cut foods into small pieces
  • Use a straw to drink liquids
  • Eat foods cold or at room temperature
  • Clean teeth (including dentures) and rinse mouth at least four times per day (after each meal and before bedtime)
  • Add gravy, broth, or sauces to food
  • Drink high-calorie, high-protein drinks in addition to meals
  • Numb the mouth with ice chips or flavored ice pops

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