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Dec 7, 2006 03:17 PM

Eating with Chemo - any suggestions?

Nothing seems to taste very good these days, with the exception of some sweet stuff. I just ate a couple of pieces of pickled herring in wine sauce and that wasn't bad. But we ate at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant last night and the entire meal seemed bland to me. This is somewhat disheartening, since cooking and eating have always been really important to me.

Also, there are these restrictions to deal with, due to the possibility of food-borne illness in this time when my immunity is compromised: I can't eat raw fruits or veggies, no sushi, gotta have "fully cooked," which I suppose means "well-done" meats. So what the heck am I gonna eat in Paris at the end of this month, considering that "medium" in France pretty much equates to "raw" in the US? Well, I suppose I could eat duck confit and stews for 5 days - that's not too much of a burden... Don't know about French cheeses, but I'm guessing they'll be on my non-non list, too.

I know it's temporary, but I could sure use some suggestions from any fellow 'hounds who've been there and done that. What flavors really appealed to you and stimulated your appetite? I mean, I don't mind losing some weight, but a person's gotta eat!


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  1. A friend of mine who underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer a couple of years ago said that kimchee, the korean pickled cabbage, was one of the few things that would whet her appetite and kept her from getting sick while she ate. I don't know how you feel about it, but there's a suggestion.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gyp7318

      That's a fine idea. Kimchee is full of fresh ginger - which is one of the best anti-nausea remedies. Tofu, rice, kimchee...yum!

    2. Hi Deenso,

      First off , good luck with your chemo. I hope and pray everything goes well. My husband just made his Five Year anniversary in September and we celebrated with a lavish holiday in San Diego with our little chowpup. During his 6 months of chemo, we weren't allowed to travel very extensively which was a bit of a bummer, but we ate our way around the world here in NYC. My husband found that red meat in general took on a very metallic taste and silver cutlery left a yucky taste in his mouth (we used a lot of plastic). He also developed a terrible aversion to ice cubes, as he used to keep them in his mouth during one of the infusions to prevent mouth sores. That said, he pretty much enjoyed everything as usual during his treatment, and I might add did not lose a pound. I really enjoyed cooking for him :) On the days right after, we did a lot of soupy, braised stuff but with bold seasonings (chicken adobo soup with lots of cilantro and lime, Vietnamese pho, escarole and white beans with baby meatballs and great olive oil etc.) We made sure all our fruits and veggies were very well washed and stayed away from raw fish. We tried to ensure that his meals were really extra balanced- greens
      (always cooked, sauteed with lots of garlic and oil) beans, fish, lean meat, whole grains, low fat dairy and lots of water, fresh juices and teas. Of course I baked a ton of treats for him too. We ate out all the time, but avoided street foods, fairs (which we normally love) and any restaurants that were a bit "questionable" in terms of cleanliness (trust me, I know that even the four stars have issues) We even enjoyed a "cheer-up" meal at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago during that rough time(and we even made an exception to our no street food rule to enjoy the Taste of Chicago although we were a bit prudent)! I'd like to return to fully enjoy it now that all is well.

      Best of Luck and Blessed Holidays,

      1. Hang in there Deenso! I don't have any personal experience with chemo, but I took care of my mom while she went through a few rounds. The best thing you can do for your appetite is variety -- try to get something different for every meal. Chemo and nausea seem to go hand in hand, unfortunately, so we got a lot of broth-based, hearty-but-soothing soups, like pho or Korean sullungtang. I'm not a doctor myself, but I didn't think that a lot of the eating restrictions my mom's doctors imposed were necessary -- it's one thing to be extra careful washing and preparing fruits and veggies, but it's another thing to eliminate them altogether, especially when you already have a poor appetite and need all the nutrition you can get! Hope you feel better soon.

        1. You should discuss the food restrictions with your Dr. or chemo nurse. You should not eat raw veggies, however, I don;t think that eating medium rare meat is a problem though I may be wrong. French cheeses should be ok so long as they are not raw milk- you will need to ask .

          1. Hope you have an easy time with chemo. During my treatment, I found that my usual comfort foods were the ones I liked best - really ordinary things like cottage cheese and jello, or scrambled eggs, or french toast. Greek food was particularly appealing, maybe because of the sharp lemon and dill flavors. I also found that eating small snacks every few hours made me feel better than a three meal a day schedule. Your options in Paris should be pretty broad. Roast chicken, stews, soups, fish - pretty much the same options as you'd have here. Footnote: I did a celebratory trip to Paris (my first!) after I'd finished chemo - as something to look forward to! Best wishes with your treatment, Deenso.