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I have a friend who's a serious food lover, but she started chemotherapy a few days ago and has completely lost her appetite. She feels a strong aversion to just about any food she can think of. It's a little worrisome, because she needs to keep her strength up!

Are there any hounds out there with experience in this sort of thing who can suggest stuff that might make it across her lips?

One tip I've heard was puddings and flan. I'd imagine scrambled egg sandwiches would work, too. Anything else to propose?

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  1. My dad was always thin. So when he underwent chemo, he became dangerously underweight. The cancer center recommended Ensure. Dad was always pretty particular about his food, but we gave it a shot. He loved it (especially the chocolate):it went down easy and, more importantly, stayed down. He actually liked the taste. And it provided good nutrition.

    This will sound odd, but my sister who is a nurse told us it really isn't unusual for under-nourished patients to enjoy this product.

    Not exactly a "food," but maybe worth a shot?

    12 Replies
    1. re: gaffk

      Great tip, thanks. But of course it makes me wonder whether there are any similar products which taste any better.....maybe we'll have a taste test.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Try mixing the ensure with ice cream, fruit, etc. Make it like a shake, and it has helped a lot of people I know. How about apple sauce?

        1. re: Jim Leff

          When my mom was having chemo, she didn't like Ensure at all, but did like Boost (esp the chocolate flavor).

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Jim, I did comparative taste testings of several Boost flavors and Ensure flavors, and Boost won for me. I understand that Ensure has recently reformulated, so the results might be different now. Best to drink it cold, as both have a definite metallic note. We used to make a "Brown Cow" for my dad, floating vanilla ice cream in a mug of chocolate Boost.

            Do check with your friend about whether any ice cream flavors taste good to her. Thankfully, almost everyone likes ice cream even when sick and the calories can help keep weight up.

            I spent a year cooking for a friend thru her journey on the c-train with battling breast cancer. Her tastes changed every week, so you'll need to keep checking in on what does and doesn't taste good. I really should post about it.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Melanie, this is the perfect opportunity to post about it! Go for it! :)

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Definitely taste test the ensure, boost, whatever on the individual. My auntie was refusing the "most popular" flavors, but I went out and bought about a dozen different flavors for her to try across the brands, and she liked a few of them. Don't give up after trying one shake. Those things were a godsend.

                Baby food might be a good choice (vegetarian and very bland). I seem to remember my friend's mother being able to keep it down, but I think her main reason for eating it was that it was gentle on her mouth, which was very sensitive.

                1. re: Heatherb

                  My mom got tired of Ensure and Boost and we ended up using Carnation instant breakfasts in a can, because they were lower fiber (she was having problems) and because they lactose free. we'd order them from this website: http://www.totalhomemedical.com/ not cheap, but 2 a day of the 375 cals. one (plus what we fed her) had her gaining weight in a few months.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  that's really true about tastes changing. things my mom didn't like for one month suddenly came back into fashion later. (she didn't have cancer, but she did have chemo.) The Carnation instant bfast i posted below became the only nutritional supplement's taste she liked, and she learned to eat things again (bacon & eggs!) that she had eschewed for two years. so it can turn around again, just keep suggesting things, adding things back in slowly, even sneaking things in. i would chop and add spinach into everything i could.

                3. re: Jim Leff

                  I've heard that some people like ensure semi-frozen into a "shake"

                4. re: gaffk

                  My grandfather drank them and liked the chocolate flavor. Vanilla he called "Endure".

                  1. re: gaffk

                    I second this. I thought Ensure and Boost sounded repulsive but when my husband was ill he loved them.

                    1. re: gaffk

                      Same experience with someone I know.

                    2. It may come down completely to her personal tastes. When my beloved Aunt was in a similar situation, she was also down to drinks like ensure, soda crackers, and even fluids via IV (to keep her electrolytes balanced), unfortunately. She couldn't even stomach the smells of most foods. Chemo and flavorful food just do not seem to mix well, at least in my limited experience. She was under 100 pounds during that time. I think linguafood has the best suggestion; if only that had been an option for my aunt.

                      If she is suffering from mouth sores, go very easy on salt, if any. Purees or blended soups might be good. You could do a blended white bean soup made with chicken broth, carrots, onions, and herbs to give her a protein boost. Or even that African style peanut soup (but not spicy) made with natural peanut butter. High calorie and high protein. Quiche or simple omelettes. Brown rice with very simple roast chicken and root veggies. Stick to blander, soft foods and typically you want to avoid anything spicy, fried, greasy, sugary (i.e. added sugar), or heavy on the use of high-fat dairy (some people become very intolerant of dairy when on chemo). I would also avoid acidy things if her mouth is bothering her at all.

                      This link may help: http://www.chemocare.com/eatingwell/t...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jen76

                        Agree. You will just have to see what she feels she can tolerate. If iwere in that situation I would resort to the herbal remedy discussed earlier.

                      2. A couple members of my family had the same issues; my uncle said he didint have any appetite. Brothy soups like won ton or cream soups worked well as did bisques like she crab or pumpkin. Also, consider soft foods like chicken & dumplings or noodles, mashed potatoes, baked oatmeal with apples & brown sugar, yogurt with fruit, poached or soft boiled eggs, maybe sausage gravy with a very soft biscuit., etc.

                        It's important that your friend does not become dehydrated so think about popsicles, sherbet, even Pedialyte pops; here's wishing her the best.

                        1. I have worked in oncology and it is a problem that unfortunately plagues those undergoing chemo. The feedback I used to hear from patients is light, fresh food in very small portions. Nothing with a strong odour as it is off-putting and increases nausea. Steamed vegies, steamed fish or chicken was usually well recieved. Another problem that hits those undergoing chemo is terrible mouth ulcers - many don't eat due to the sheer pain. There are a lot of products out there to help with that, but keeping textures soft is really important. Also, one thing that was often appreciated before a meal was a ginger beer - some people find that the ginger helps relieve nausea a bit and the bubbles help settle the stomach prior to a meal. I hope there's something there that helps, and I wish you and your friend all the best. It can be a tough time, but it sounds like she's got good support around her.

                          1. When I went through chemo, there were several stand-bys that I ate throughout. It all depended where I was in the cycle. Some days, it was all I could do to stand water. I also lost the ability to taste sweet, so everything tasted a little like sand. I lost 65 pounds over 3 months with muscle wasting, and it became really important that I get in as many calories as I could stand.

                            But the foods that got me through:

                            Farina or oatmeal with milk nearly every day. Choked down prune juice, too. There are side effects no one ever talks about.

                            I ate a lot of broiled or boiled skinless chicken and mashed potatoes that were light on the butter. As dehydration can be a concern, I saved the broth I cooked the chicken in to sip on. Sports drinks and I did not get along.

                            I craved miso soup.

                            By the end of treatment I had mouth ulcers that made it hard to chew, I drank a lot of whole milk to try and stop the weight loss, sometimes with a banana blended into it. Protein powder might have been a good idea. The taste of Ensure was terrible to me.

                            Best wishes to your friend.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Divamac

                              It's funny (not "ha-ha" funny) that you mention muscle wasting, yet most of your recommendations are carbohydrates. It takes protein - steady ingestion, at every meal - to prevent that wasting. I was given an unforgettable example of that when I read that hardcore bodybuilders wake up in the middle of the night to eat some protein, fearful the long overnight fast might otherwise deplete some of their muscle mass.

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                Please don't take my post as recommendations. I was merely telling you my experience, not specifically making recommendations. Your friend's experience will be different than mine, and she will eat whatever she can stomach during her treatment.

                                Whole milk and chicken were the centerpieces of my diet during chemo - two foods I haven't eaten in the 12 years since. Depending on the regimen, there's not much you can do about some muscle wasting. But when it comes down to it, you feel so lousy that you are willing to eat anything you can keep down jus to get some calories in.

                                1. re: Divamac

                                  That all makes lots of sense.

                                  "two foods I haven't eaten in the 12 years since"

                                  Wow. So maybe the most important lesson, from a chowhound's perspective, realy is NOT to eat stuff you love during this time.

                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                  If your friend has also had surgery, protein is also good for healing wounds.

                                  One thing that my mother made for me when I was on chemo was salmon steaks; she cooked onions (also good for healing) with a little sliced garlic and ginger, then steamed the salmon on top of that.. The flavors weren't too aggressive, and all of the ingredients were very good for the assaults that chemo and surgery can be to your system.

                                  But then, when I was on the upswing of my cycle, I also ate spicy Korean food...

                                  Each chemo cocktail reacts differently, but the first few days after mine were the worst for tolerating food. I ate mostly bland stuff then. The medically prescribed nausea remedies worked pretty well for me. I also understand that there are a few new ones since I was on chemo (10 years ago).

                                  Exercise (even walking up and down the hall, or around the block) and drinking as much water as possible also helps.

                                  I also don't have any particular aversions to foods that i ate when i was on chemo.

                                  1. re: Lori D

                                    Excercise, even moderate like hall-walking, helps keep digestion going. This is crucial! Walk with assistance if necessary, but walk.

                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                      Every single time that Mike's in the hospital (not such a problem at home, but it's easy to get dispirited there, on top of being so very sick) the nurses have made a point of encouraging him to take a lap every few hours or so. Unfortunately, he's not allowed outside because the rooms are filtered rooms, but even just getting up and moving has had beneficial effects. What a very good suggestion, tj.
                                      The second year he had to endure this, he got a wild hair and took off during a chemo. break, straight down to Fillmore where he treated himself to a beer and a burger. You should've seen the look on the nurse's faces. I did tell him it wasn't probably a good idea to actually leave the grounds, but then again I've never experienced what he did, so I didn't jump on that one - I figured he deserved both treats.

                              2. OMG, you're totally a jazz musician. Besides being cofounder of Chowhound. And making people aware of the confirmational bias is one of my life's missions. At least this fall. I might be in love with you. If only it weren't for the artificial flavorings . . .


                                I am lucky enough to have no experience with chemo, but as one of the unhealthy ways I deal with stress (lately) is through not eating (and feeling nauseous), I have found that I can usually down some fruit--though pineapple makes everything else taste weird, so beware--and/or miso broth. The miso broth has the added benefits of hydration (salt+water) and probiotics. Not many calories, though. But hopefully that medicinal herb will help your friend's appetite . . .

                                Oh, and miracle fruit tablets are fun; they bind to your tongue's sour taste receptors and make sour food taste sweet. Not sure if this will help in the case of your friend, of course, but it may make eating seem sort of novel for a little while. And *maybe* counterbalance some of the weird taste side effects that go on with chemo.

                                I hope your friend gets well quickly.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: guilty

                                  for those wondering:
                                  Confirmational Bias: http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2010/11/c...
                                  Artificial flavors: http://www.chow.com/stories/10326
                                  You know, lots of people felt a negative visceral reaction to the artificial flavors piece, but it was carefully argued, and no one's ever argued back on any of its assumptions.

                                  I like the idea of hacking into things with sour fruit tablets. Maybe some other sour stuff, as well (lambic beer?).

                                  PS - if you loved me when I was running Chowhound, you would definitely not have loved me for having founded Chowhound. http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2008/12/c...

                                2. I had stage 3 colon cancer and went through 8 mos of chemo. I hated everything I ate while on chemo - my goal became to not have all kinds of food I normally loved so I would not end up hating them.

                                  The appetite and love for food does come back. 5 years afterwards, I still can't stand diet ginger ale or plain american grilled cheese sandwiches - but I'm not sure that's because of the chemo.

                                  I'd stay with modified Ensure or protein/whey shakes - might as well learn to down the stuff that you hate that's good for you. Save the good food for later, when all is better.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: applehome

                                    apple, awesome good post. Yup, makes sense to "protect" your favored dishes/foods by steering clear. One thing: what are some of the ways you modified Ensure?

                                    Also my Dad had stage 3 colon cancer, so I know what odds you bucked to still be here 5 years later. Congrats. Also, weren't you posting prolifically at that time? Not sure how, given the food aversion....

                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                      Because I'm also diabetic, I used Glucerna and the EAS protein shake, not Ensure. I remember I put half a banana in the chocolate shake - hit the limit for sugars, but 20 grams of protein per scoop (plus the milk I mixed it in). Real strawberries in the strawberry shake really amped it up. I just kept the blender base out.

                                      One trick I learned was to use a teaspoon or so of the Jello instant no-sugar pudding as a flavor agent. So you could do pistachio in chocolate, butterscotch in vanilla, etc... and it helps to thicken up the shake.

                                      You still have to eat stuff - you can't do it all with shakes - but trying to find something that's really good to eat was pretty much impossible for me. On my chemo days it was definitely shakes only - both before going to the center and afterwards. The psychological piece of this is immense - even all this time later, just driving by the cancer center can make me nauseous.

                                      1. re: applehome

                                        Re: psychology, the health drama/cancer aspect needn't even factor into the lingering aversion. Many people who get sick as kids from overconsuming alcohol products can't go near those products again. E.g. don't even hold an open bottle of Genesee Cream Ale in front of me....

                                        That's why your advice to "protect" favored foods and ingredients by not eating them during this time makes so much sense.

                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                          So laughing! I know many people with the GCA aversion. Came from .50 16 oz. drafts of the stuff in our youth.

                                  2. BTW, I have to note that Chowhound opened in 1997, and it wasn't six months before I was told we'd jumped the shark, the site was going downhill, the torrent of new faces was diluting our quality, etc etc. Those complaints have never ceased.

                                    But at this late date, thirteen years later, we can still, in just over twelve hours, conjure up a thread chock full of absolutely unique and highly resourceful information of great use on a fairly arcane subject. And that makes me real happy (likewise the kitchen redesign thread, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743667 )

                                    1. Does chemo include any vitamins or other nutrients? When both of my parents underwent chemo, I wondered about this. We did try Ensure largely for this purpose, but both of them tired of it fairly quickly. We learned that appetites and cravings fluctuated violently, and they learned to indulge themselves when they did have yearnings for a particular food or combination. It takes a little time to uncensor yourself about what you think is the "right" way to eat.

                                      Right now, I have five friends in chemotherapy, and their reactions are all over the map. Like your friend, nausea seems to be less of a problem these days because of newer and better pharmaceuticals, but the reactions are still widely variable and unpredictable.

                                      1. home-made ice cream?
                                        maybe using coconut milk to boost fat content as well?

                                        1. An egg drop style soup would be an easy way to provide protein. I had to use a medication that made me quite ill, and I found that was easy for me to get down, as long as it cooled a bit. I found that the more nauseous I was, the more sensitive my stomach became to temperature extremes (especially very hot liquids). I just let it cool for a bit.

                                          Peppermint is also very good to help quell nausea (not as much fun as the other stuff, though).

                                          I wish her the best.

                                          1. Shakes or smoothies might work and you can put just about anything in it...like vitamins or a "special" brownie. I heard someone call such a concoction a "happy shake".

                                            1. I wish the best for your friend.

                                              1. I am going to make a mental note of this thread. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer a month ago, and post-surgery, I am potentially heading into this arena myself (I'm told it's likely, because I'm young for this, etc)

                                                I know now might not be the time to experiment, but I wonder if coconut milk based soups would be tolerable?

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: im_nomad

                                                  So sorry about the diagnosis. But if the terrific houndish wisdom contributed in this thread gives you at least some measure of carcinogenic culinary confidence, I'd be tickled (breast cancer) pink.

                                                  Chowhounding's about persevering through a given set of restrictions to suss out resourceful, strategic ways to ensure enjoyable results. I see a deep parallel to more serious struggles, and this thread, to me, really illustrates that.

                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                    All the coconut milk based soups I've ever had - which isn't much, I'll admit - have been spicy. I have made coconut milk ice cream though and it was very tasty. I wish you lots of good healing vibes. Same to your friend, Jim.

                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                      ****good thoughts coming your way, IMN**** We ALL should bookmark this thread...could happen to any of us! <bless> ♥

                                                      1. re: Val

                                                        Thanks guys :) And positive vibes right back at anyone touched by this stuff. My father had radiation last fall and while it didn't affect his appetite, he also had to work around a few things that would hurt his throat, as it felt scorched. When you're a food lover, these things can dampen your spirits.

                                                        "Chowhounding's about persevering through a given set of restrictions to suss out resourceful, strategic ways to ensure enjoyable results." Love this ! I don't eat meat, so I already work around this, and voluntarily gave up soy until I have the rest of my results back on the whole hormone thing. I am ok with this, but someone mentioned to me this week that I should give up dairy. Giving up cheese would break my little cheese-loving heart, so I'm not sure I could go that far.

                                                        re: coconut milk soups.... I thought i've had some milder Thai soups, but I could be wrong. I have a super high tolerance for heat, so maybe they just seemed mild to me.

                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                          People who meet me often apologize for being vegetarians. As if that makes them less chowhoundish. Nothing could be more untrue. Whatever your present limitations, chowhounding is about playing the cards you're dealt skillfully enough to enjoy great results. That's what I've told my friend with the chemo...it's just more of same.

                                                          And, again, it's not just about food!

                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                            My friend gave up meat and dairy (later adding back in yogurt) during her bout. I made many "creemy" soups for her using coconut milk or almond milk as a substitute for cow's milk in recipes. So you needn't limit yourself to Thai style to use coconut milk.

                                                            A book that helped her (and most of her breast cancer support group) sort through the often conflicting dietary advice is Anticancer, A New Way of Life.
                                                            I have not read it myself, but did integrate whatever diet needs she requested and some may have originated here.

                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                              Actually, I think that a coconut-based soup with some gentle heat, vegetables and ginger would be good for a sensitive stomach. But of course, everyone's stomach is different.

                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                Anticancer is a great book - inspiring and informative and full of some great advice. Lots of info about avoiding foods that create inflammation in the body. Made a lot of sense to me. When I read it a couple of years ago I recommended it to everyone.

                                                        2. Along the lines of Creamof Wheat, how about Congee (rice porridge)?

                                                          1. It breaks my heart to see so many around me going through this, but at least it sounds like she is in good hands.

                                                            As someone who just came out from a long spell of illnesses that included severe weight loss and nausea, loss of appetite, aversion to many, many foods and smells, dehydration and sores, I can share some ideas that might work for your friend.

                                                            Broth-type soups made with the meat, bones, skin and ligaments etc. The collagen (and maybe the fat too?) seems to help hydrate the whole body (even the organs) and help heal the sores better. Chicken has a more neutral taste than pork or beef, and chicken feet works very well if she does not mind that kind of thing.

                                                            Adding ginger to the soup helps with nausea, and adding lemon juice worked for me to help whet the appetite.

                                                            I was also recently sent a gift of chicken soup made with coconut milk. It was not spicy and seemed to work well. It should be good for nutrition too.

                                                            How about rice congee, Chinese style? Very basic seasonings such as sea salt, nori or (a tiny bit of) pickled plum. Those are what I could eat during the worst of the conditions. The texture is gentle and comforting.

                                                            Also, club soda with a tiny bit of juice added. That seemed to help with nausea and the appetite. You can experient with adding a splash of ginger juice, lemon juice or other juice of your choice.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                              I don't know if this is helpful, but I'm adding some links to some congee recipes I found:

                                                              Basic Congee from Seductions of Rice

                                                              Rice cooker congee

                                                              Slow cooker congee

                                                              rworange's oatmeal congee thread

                                                              Here's pikawicca's mom's meat spread recipe (scroll to the last paragraph), which I thought might be nice with chicken and some soft bread or soda crackers. I wondered about subbing Neufchatel for the mayo to boost protein content:

                                                              Barefoot contessa's herb-baked eggs (maybe without the herbs):


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                One suggestion for the congee recipes - none of them have ginger (which has antinausea properties, and goes well with congee - so I've been told, I'm not a big congee lover). So perhaps adding some ginger to the recipe would help a chemo patient?

                                                                BTW - Jim, is your friend getting carboplatin and taxol every 3 weeks?

                                                                  1. re: Lori D

                                                                    Growing up, we often add slivers of raw sliced ginger to hot congee right before serving -- really perks it up.

                                                                    1. re: limster

                                                                      That's cuz you're young, Limster!

                                                                      There was a point in the last century when congee protocol changed from adding everything early so the flavors combined into a gestalt, to adding stuff late, so individual flavors maintained their integrity. Obviously, this didn't happen everywhere at the same time. And no food rule you ever make ever holds true 100% of the time. But my understanding is that, up to a certain point not so very long ago, congee just about everywhere was a slurry of highly integrated flavors. I.e. not real perky (though I actually prefer old school congee myself!).

                                                              2. How about deviled chicken spread on saltines?


                                                                Leave out the tabasco and scallions? I've also seen some recipes that call for softened cream cheese in addition to the mayo. I worry that might be too much fat, though. Maybe Neufchatel?


                                                                1. Madhur Jaffrey has a recipe -- I think in her World of the East Vegetarian Cookbook -- for lime pickle made with black pepper, not red, some other fairly mild spices, & no oil; I believe she says it was her grandmother's recipe. It smells rather medicinal & some people will try it only under protest, but it has worked for several friends of mine who had serious chemo nausea. I'll post it if you want to try it; note that it takes a few weeks to mature, so start soon. (It also works well for pregnant women with morning sickness & for people with hangovers, though the latter will protest very loudly indeed.)

                                                                  But in general, I think you go with whatever has any appeal at all, & try to work around the chemo schedule (the day after seems to be especially bad).

                                                                  One friend of mine could eat nothing the day after chemo but Peach Honey, which is a sort of runny peach preserve (basically equal parts cut-up ripe peaches & sugar, & a bit of lemon juice or Fruit Fresh. cooked over moderate heat until thick & clear; I put the kernals from inside the peach pits in too, in a cheesecloth bag, while it's cooking; it won't set like a jam, but once it's about the texture of thick honey, pack it hot & process it if you want to keep it around for a while; if you have good frozen peaches they would probably work fine).

                                                                  Oh, & applesauce sometimes stays down -- not a lot of calories or nutrition, but it's something.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mshenna

                                                                    Ms. Henna--is this the lime pickle recipe? http://riceandspicy.blogspot.com/2010...

                                                                    Here's a recipe that sounds similar to your peach honey recipe, does that seem about right? http://dotsmom.blogspot.com/2007/07/i...


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      That's the one, but I think the original recipe also included a bit of black salt (which smells like sulfur but does settle one's stomach). I can post the details in a day or so (have to locate my copy). One more thing that she does not say -- you can really speed this (or any pickle or marmalade where citrus rind needs to soften) up a lot by sticking the citrus in the freezer for a day or so; it helps to break down the skins. Stuff the limes with the salt/spice mix first & then, before adding the lime juice, freeze them for a day or two in a Ziploc bag; then thaw (the color of the rind will be darker), & carry on with adding the lime juice, putting them somewhere warm & shaking them up often. (I put mine near, not on, a radiator in winter, & in the sun, as Ms. Jaffrey recommends, in summer.)

                                                                      The peach honey recipe is what I do, although I am not sure there was lemon in the original recipe (which was in only one, I think, of the many editions of Putting Food By -- I lost mine once & ended up getting three different editions from bookfinder.com before finding the right one -- well worth it too). But if you use it, the color stays brighter, & I also put in the kernels from the peachpits (in a cheesecloth bag, tea ball or equivalent) while boiling, for more flavor. To process it, pack hot, leaving about 3/8" headspace (exact amount does not matter) & stick in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes for half-pints, 15 for pints. If you are used to making jam, remember that this one does not set firmly; don't boil it hard (it scorches) & don't bother with the thermometer, just jar it when it is thick but fluid. If you process the jars, it keeps for ages -- though it generally gets eaten up fast. Good on biscuits, waffles, etc.

                                                                      A friend reminded me that presentation matters as much as the food itself when you are having trouble eating. Put the Ensure in a pretty glass with a straw. Make chopped salad, not big leafy salad. Use the good china, that kind of thing.

                                                                    1. re: mshenna

                                                                      If you go to a health food store, they will often sell protien shakes that people often use to 'bulk up'. they are full of calories. You can also docter them up by using whole milk, yogurt, peanut butter and fruits like bananas.

                                                                    2. We just went through this w/ my FIL who is a real foodie (once owned a Washingtonian Top 100 restaurant for years). He couldn't taste anything so I just tried to pack as many nutritious foods into what he could eat. Eggs were a staple. Oatmeal w/ eggs beaten into it, flan/custard/crustless quiche were staples. And while I tried to differentiate between the flan/custard/quiche, he really couldn't tell if they were sweet or savory. I tried to use far more egg yolks than egg whites to increase calories/fat. Mushy avocados added to eggs, mashed potatoes. Add dried powdered milk to anything that will take it. One thing he complained about is dry mouth so anything sour was helpful, quench gum, lemon slices. Oh, and the doctors highly recommended Ensure.

                                                                      1. When my father in law was undergoing chemo, one of the few foods he would eat on his own accord was baby back ribs. I would marinate and smoke them, then sauce and grill them before service. It got to the point that I would smoke 15 racks at a time, then use my foodsaver to seal and freeze them. Sounds strange now, but we were just happy he was eating.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jbroccoli

                                                                          Babyback ribs for recuperation! I love it!!

                                                                        2. Jeff,

                                                                          I recommend looking into a high performance blender, such as Vitamix, to maximize the nutrients from the food she eats.

                                                                          Breakfast smoothies with any fruit she would have an interest in eating with even small amounts spinach, oatmeal and ground flax seeds tossed in undetected.

                                                                          It is quite easy to make a soup in minutes right in the blender. The machine is powerful enough to actually heat the soup.


                                                                          1. +1 for this topic. It does bring so many memories back. When my stepdad AKA My Extra Dad was undergoing chemo and radiation, my mother had taken time so much making calorie dense food for him such as soups and some of the same things others have mentioned. Unfortunately for us we were the ones eating it not him. He ended up not only with the fatigue and nausea but ulcers that encompassed his entire mouth and throat making swallowing anything impossible including water. He ended up with a NG tube, which was a blessing because he could just syringe the 500 calorie Ensure-like product 4-5 times at day and water to maintain his energy without the pain. We also added additional Omega 3-6-9 oil to that.

                                                                            Before the ulcers came, ice cream was the only thing he wanted to eat. So we bought the most calorie dense we could find and mixed some protein powder in. Carbs are great but protein is what our bodies use to heal.

                                                                            In my personal experience when feeding someone under going treatment, it is getting the most bang for your buck because they might not be interested in eating a lot. My mother and I came up with an order of operations. Most calorie dense first, if that is consumed, then the fluff.

                                                                            My thoughts are with anyone having to undergo treatment. Stay strong. My Extra Dad is still cancer free over 5 years after treatment.

                                                                            1. I have answered this question numerous times on Chowhound, but will repeat. To start with, which chemo is she getting? The strategies are different. That said, I will tell you what worked for me. I had no appetite, but knew I had to eat. So, I did. And ate small 2-3oz snacks every two hours. Too full, not good. Too empty even worse.

                                                                              8am: oatmeal
                                                                              10am: smoothie, usually with some fruit. yogurt in any form is good
                                                                              12pm: lunch... maybe two meatballs with two forkfuls of pasta, or a mini quiche
                                                                              2pm: hard-boiled egg
                                                                              4pm: this was the hardest one, but often a lunch-type item
                                                                              6pm: dinner, mashed taters, pasta, half a tenderloin, pho
                                                                              8pm: piece of cheese or a nibble of bread

                                                                              etc. My first three days I was pumped full of steroids and cooked for three straights days. Chicken Stew, meatballs, mini-quiche with all kinds of different fillings, beef stews, hard boiled eggs, etc.

                                                                              The trick is to get enough protein. Other things.... vegetables seemed repulsive, craved salt, drink at least 3 litres of water every day. Night before the next infusion, I went for some Thai food at a place that over salts their foods. Made in the injections much easier since my body was so puffy.

                                                                              Will post more of what I did when I can remember more. [Not a time that I think about often.]

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                Here's some freezer friendly mini-meatballs and mini-quiches recipes. Maybe prep on days of high energy?

                                                                                Mini meatballs (so small they can be cooked without needing defrosting)


                                                                                Smoothies thread

                                                                                Here's a super hands off beef stew recipe I like. I don't know if it's too rich or not...


                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                  oh yea. Mashed potatoes, fish cakes, meatloaf.

                                                                                  I froze all my food in the 2-3oz servings [meaning the meats, stews, and quiche] since I never knew what would vaguely appeal to me.

                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                    If you (and others) don't mind me asking, what type of chemo did you have? I am starting out with something called FEC (I think), can't recall the other. There is a dietician on the unit I will be going to, so I'm hoping to have lots of help and suggestions. I am thinking I may have to bring fish back into my diet (I don't eat meat and tofu and other soy products are now off the list from now on )

                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                      Uff da, oy. SO sorry that this is happening to you.
                                                                                      Mikey had the leukemia-specific chemo: AB-something? We've been doing this for a few years now, so forgive my faulty memory.
                                                                                      It involved arsenic, though.
                                                                                      Ok, so foodstyle? Ask folks for small portions, thank you mariacarmen. Of whatever you eat.
                                                                                      Fish is good, but only if it works for you. Maybe small portions of cod, or halibut.
                                                                                      Definitely, avoid genetically-modified soy product.
                                                                                      I wish you nothing but the very best.

                                                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                        my mom did Cytoxan. but it was different for her, because her disease required a longer period of "chemo" - 9 months - and at a much smaller dose. she never lost her hair or vomited. She did have the eating issues, tho, and as mentioned above, eating small bites of very delicious things brought her back to eating almost like a regular person (never in the same quantities, tho.)

                                                                                        Hoping the very best for you, im_nomad.....

                                                                                    2. For smoothies, freeze some of the fruit - especially bananas. Gives you a nice creamy, milkshakey texture without watering down the flavors with ice cubes. You could then add some milk powder to add some protein.

                                                                                      Excellent thread, by the way.

                                                                                      1. Hi Jim,

                                                                                        You haven't said which kind of cancer and what sort of chemo your friend is on.

                                                                                        In my case (stage IV colon cancer) the two times I was on chemo (oxiplatin & xeloda) I was mostly listless about eating the first week of the three-week cycle but oddly found comfort food things like grilled cheese or toasted ham sandwiches, even a slice of pizza, were palatable. I mostly made sure to stay hydrated, though my particular chemo made it impossible to drink (or even touch) anything cold.

                                                                                        For nausea Emend helps a lot.

                                                                                        How's your friend doing?

                                                                                        1. It is heartbreaking to see someone you love lose their appetite. My dad always says "yumyum!" when we cook something he loves, or when he dives into a perfect Italian sub. When he was in the hospital and had no appetite I was like, "no yumyum?" and he agreed sadly, "no yumyum." That makes your heart so heavy.

                                                                                          My friend's sister went through an intense bout of chemo for stage 4 cancer. I remember my friend saying that, strangely, her sister did enjoy eating beans. And it kept her energy up. It's now a couple of years later and she's doing fantastic. I wish all the best for your friend and all of you looking out for her.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Niblet

                                                                                            On my good days, I craved bean and cheese burritos. I had mouth ulcers and the soft texture was easy to eat without causing too much discomfort.

                                                                                            1. Chemo sucks! Period. The end. To ease your own potential frustration, please understand that under the "influence" of chemo, every one experiences different reactions when it comes to side effects - taste and mouth issues being one. What tastes good to one may be bland to another, and be like eating a white hot coal to a third.

                                                                                              You are a wonderful friend to be concerned about a nutritious, yet tolerable diet for your warrior friend. There are excellent ideas here and all should be considered. While mouth sores are a very serious consideration, not everyone develops them (I sincerely pray that your friend is a lucky one in that regard). If she doesn't, there's no reason she shouldn't have solid foods, ie a tender steak (go easy on seasoning), roast, vegetables etc. She may not taste it, but the nutritional value will be there. There's no law that says you have to drink your nutrition while on chemo, but if that ends up the case, there are some great flavored protein powders to mix with juices and others with milk (shakes).

                                                                                              Oftentimes, a bad taste in the mouth becomes constant. I found that Tom's of Maine peppermint mouthwash is an excellent mouth refresher - alcohol free - alcohol based washes can burn. I would encourage you to purchase a bottle of it - it's strong, so if needed, it can be diluted. Other than that, even though she may not have an appetite, try to let her guide you to the food textures that she thinks she'd tolerate.

                                                                                              I pray that your friend survives the torture of chemo. It's true that in the case of chemo, the cure can seem worse than the disease. My very best wishes with hugs are passed to her and one to you, her very good friend.

                                                                                              1. I've been thinking about this and given the fact that you stated (on Nov 1) that chemo started "a few days ago", I'd imagine straight up depression is the thief that's stolen the appetite for now.

                                                                                                There are many great on-line support groups that I would urge your friend toward (I realize this isn't very "chowish"). While it may seem awkward to her initially, there are many who are trodding the same steps as her that can lead her through the minefields, telling what to avoid and what to seek out. These groups would be specific to her type of cancer and the specific type chemo best suited for that cancer. Each of them has different potential side affects. Like the side effects of the receiving patients, the therapies differ also (not all make your hair fall out).

                                                                                                (As to food and when appetite is stolen by chemo effect, I agree with Mariacarmen above, about the little bites of food. Quantity can be disgustingly overwhelming).

                                                                                                1. If it's Not About Food, it's about trying to be able.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                    ok, edited out the offensive (to the mods) language, and repostingthe rest of my original post:

                                                                                                    other than that, we'd entice her with very small portions, exquisite little bites of things - cream of corn soups, sliced up sandwiches of things she loved, mashed potatoes with a soft fried egg on top, tiny pieces of her favorite cakes, pancakes drowned in syrup, and yes, puddings - tapioca was a favorite.... we also had her drinking Boost - 3-4 times a day. good for keeping the weight on. good luck to your friend.

                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                      Dad could not be enticed; but mom has a healthy appetite at 82. I really think 10 years from now she'll still be with us. Maybe I'm delusional; but with little tastes of what she loves, and an ensure every now & then . . . .

                                                                                                  2. peppermint is generally helpful with nausea, i don't know about for chemo, but maybe peppermint candies/bark/tea? prob not the most nourishing, but i suppose better than nothing...

                                                                                                    1. Just a quick update. She's doing great. Feeling somewhat crappy for a week after treatment, then ok for a couple weeks (up -and-down, but the ups are pretty close to normal). And the second treatment went easier than the first, so we're hoping that's a trend.

                                                                                                      She's been following this thread and it's helped a lot and she (and I) feels real grateful. This has been a great resource; lots of individual tips are available elsewhere, but, as a compendium, it can't be beat. I hope lots of other people in this position have checked it out and are getting benefit.

                                                                                                      Thanks again!

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                        Good to hear she is feeling good !!!

                                                                                                      2. Looks like no one has yet mentioned jello - preferably homemade, or flavored packages prepared with juice and/or fruit puree rather than plain water. Gelatin provides a good dose of protein.

                                                                                                        Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of my cancer surgery. I was fortunate in that I was accidentally diagnosed quite early on, so surgery alone was curative. However, my incision did not heal well so for 5 months I had an open abdominal wound, slowly granulating in. Other complications kept me hospitalized, allowed nothing by mouth, for nearly a week. So when I finally got home, my GI tract was really finicky. The visiting nurses pushed protein, essential for wound healing. I got by on Ensure for nearly a week, graduating to scrambled eggs, yogurt, and jello. My appetite didn't return to normal for a couple of weeks. Since I was never nauseous, I didn't form any bad associations with foods, and have been a fan of home-made jello ever since. Yesterday I made some with rhubarb and mixed-berry jam.

                                                                                                        In your friend's case, maybe HFCS would be beneficial. We're told that part of its perfidy is that it makes us hungrier sooner than do more natural forms of sugar.

                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                          Grey, I like your ideas about gelatines, as opposed to packaged Jello. What a good way to incorporate whole juices and fruit pieces into someone's diet who needs that good stuff. I've got to add though, that there are a few forms of cancer and chemo that don't lend themself to fresh fruits or vegetables: Most forms of leukemia for example. My son #1 hasn't had a fresh veg. in three years now - sad, 'cause he's a true hound - but the bacteria content's got to be strictly avoided when someone's autoimmune system's been shot down to nothing. I think most pasteurized juices would avoid this dilemma, but watch out for Odwalla and other "fresh" drinks. And I am so glad you're okay now.
                                                                                                          Just a thought.

                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                            Sorry to hear about all you've gone through but glad you've recovered. The gelatin is a great idea and could even be a savory aspic as a way to get in more protein and vitamins--if the stock is cooked w/ a lot of vegetables, they'd leach the vitamins and minerals into it, too. Using milk/almond milk to make a almond gelatin would also be good. I wish I had thought of that when my FIL was going through that. It was mid-summer and the coolness would been great in the heat.

                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                Thank you, Dairy Queen! I'm starting chemo next week and I'm making pomegranate gelatin this week-end so it's waiting for me in the fridge. This thread has been a joy. Thank you all.

                                                                                                                1. re: dismith

                                                                                                                  Best of luck to you dismith. I wouldn't recommend chemo to anyone, but hopefully it'll be much better than you are anticipating.

                                                                                                                  1. re: dismith

                                                                                                                    You're welcome. And good luck to you as well as to Disneyfreak during this challenging time.


                                                                                                                      1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                        Keeping my fingers crossed for you. What kind of pop cycles do you favor during treatment?

                                                                                                              2. Jim, and others: I have started a blog about my own experiences so far with cancer, and would like to share the info in this thread, if that's ok.

                                                                                                                For anyone on tumblr who might want to follow along, I'm at

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                  I get a message saying they're overloaded right now...but ♥♥ to you...that's wonderful of you to do this for others and yourself, IMN!!!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Val

                                                                                                                    Thank you ! Tumblr appears to be up and running again.

                                                                                                                    On the chow note, knock wood, so far so good. They feed you during treatment, there are wonderful volunteers coming around constantly offering tea, coffee, crackers, ice cream and cookies, plus lunch. I felt like I was in first class :)

                                                                                                                    I was able to eat supper last night but kept it bland, some barley, leftover refried beans and spinach (odd combo I know) and a little cheese. This morning was toast and an egg. Eating what I can now, not sure what the next few days hold.

                                                                                                                2. I am half way through with chemo myself. 2 down 2 to go. I find I am less hungry and eat less at each meal, which isn't neccessarily a bad thing for me. I also find that my taste buds are off for about a week after each treatment. Everything tastes a bit metallic so even when I start to feel hungy I am now not splurging on food because I hate when I go out for the "good burger" I am craving and then it tastes icky.

                                                                                                                  I also find that I am more salt sensitive for that week than I normally am so I try to avoid salty foods -- even pretzels were too salty.

                                                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                    Some people do find that using plastic cutlery can help, but yea, the taste buds do take a beating depending on which cocktail you are being given. With only two more to go, you can see the finish line though.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                      I was the opposite, especially during my last three rounds of chemo. I couldn't get enough salt. I absolutely loved canned cream of mushroom soup.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                        Half way done sounds like a good place to be. Following the present value theory, I'm stuffing in all the burgers available over the next week. I feel like a bear, getting ready for winter.

                                                                                                                        1. re: dismith

                                                                                                                          How often will you be getting chemo? It took a week for my taste buds to normalize. That first week even if I craved something it didn't taste right -- one day I had a McDonald's Big Mac because I wanted a burger but I knew that if I went out for a good one I would be disappointed when I bit into it. I go back Thursday for treatment number 3. I hope your treatments go easy. Try not to prejudge how it is going to be for you. Everyone is different and reacts differently.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                            Every 3rd week x6 and then another round, ever 2nd week x4. How did today's treatment go?

                                                                                                                            1. re: dismith

                                                                                                                              So far so good, but the ickies won't hit until tomorrow. Today is sort of the day of false security -- when I still feel good. I actually am more awake feeling today than I have been in past few weeks. Starting tomorrow I will be tired for a while along with the other symptoms.

                                                                                                                              One really nice thing -- a group of people in my office will be cooking me dinners for my family next week Monday to Friday so I don't have to worry about it when I get home from work. I find that I am so tired after working the week after chemo that I can't think about cooking when I get home and planning in advance has been more than I can do. I am so thankful to them for doing this for me and my family.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                                What a great group of co-workers you have, Dis!!!! That is really awesome! Hope you feel better soon!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Val

                                                                                                                                  That is very impressive! Isn't it amazing how very involved and loving people can be. You kind of know it's there, but then all of the sudden it's right in front of you.

                                                                                                                                  Hope the week-end passes quickly and you're feeling better more quickly than you expect.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                                  I know that feeling Disneyfreak. I usually was able to enjoy a good meal that evening before the ickies kicked in. It was typically my only good meal that day, after eating what passed for a vegetarian meal in the chemo unit (I may never be able to enjoy tomato soup ever again).

                                                                                                                                  Your co-workers sound awesome ! I had oodles of people who told me "let me know if you need anything" but I never wanted to ask, unless it was stuff I needed from the drugstore or a couple of times when I ran out of groceries and needed a couple of things I asked close friends.

                                                                                                                                  I used to use my "good week" to do some cooking and freezing because there's only me here, even some breakfast items like a strata I could freeze and pop squares of into the microwave on days I couldn't manage even cooking eggs (which I ate almost every morning during chemo). I also once made a large spanakopita and found that great to freeze and eat for meals (incl breakfast). Cooking also passed the time when I wasn't quite into the safe zone for being out in crowds and such (past day ten for me) and was still housebound.

                                                                                                                                  Props to you for continuing to work, it was not something I was able to do where I work.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                    Good suggestion, im_nomad. Straga sounded so much like the perfect food I just went to buy a new supply of food saver bags. I don't suppose this is a good time to recycle bags which always seems gross in the best of times.

                                                                                                                                    I kind of assume if people say "let me know if you need anything," that is the equivalent to "Hope you're feeling better soon."

                                                                                                                                    1. re: dismith

                                                                                                                                      Yeah, I let some of my usual habits with recycling etc slide a bit during that time and in general probably kept a few things around that I normally wouldn't.

                                                                                                                                      I did post the recipe for that strata over on my tumblr blog, address is up thread if you wanted to check it out.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                        I will. This is my week to get everything done before chemo starts, so I'll zip over to your blog and get the recipe. Thanks

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                                                    Disneyfreak, I don't "know" you but I've got a huge heart for what you are going through, and I wish you nothing but the very best - good health soon, long life. The grateful place you are in will take you such a long way....I know from very recent and very personal experience. Mainly I just wanted to say, best to you and to all here who are fighting the scourge of cancer themselves, or who are cooking or caring for a loved one who has it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                      THank you so much. I am very happy to be done with chemo. There are still days when I feel crappy. I'm still achy in my muscles even when I do nothing at all. I swell up in the heat too. But I see the light at the end of the tunnel finally and i know there are better things ahead -- like hair.

                                                                                                                              2. re: dismith

                                                                                                                                I went thru 8 mo of chemo 5 years ago and the two things I remember really liking to eat are:

                                                                                                                                1-my husband's homemade angel food cake. He had read somewhere that it appealed to chemo patients, tried it on me and voila! He probably made 10 cakes through that time. The other thing was a fluke. Someone brought me a bag of "Kettle Corn"--a sweet-salty popcorn--from a stand at the farmer's market and I proceeded to chow thru about 20 bags in the following weeks. Not so great for nutrition, but a wonderful feeling of getting to really EAT something and not feel sick.

                                                                                                                                Good luck to everyone on this thread dealing with chemo, whether as patient or caregiver...it's a b**tch but you will make it!

                                                                                                                            2. For what it is worth, I ran across a youtube by Dr. Luis Pineda and here's the link to his website; I have to say that the youtube's were so compassionately done by him and I might want to try his goat cheese tourine even if I'm not taking chemo...he's an M.D. and a chef!

                                                                                                                              1. Thanks for all the tips, everyone. Just wanted to add that my friend's done with the chemo and is in great shape!

                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                  Hooray! If her experience was like my Dad's, she (hopefully) didn't find her appetite or diet changed all that much.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                    That's great news, JL. This has probably been the best thread I've ever read on CH, and I hope it will continue.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                      Congrats to her! I just saw this after I posted.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                          Cheers, and best good hugs to your buddy, Jim.

                                                                                                                                        2. When my mom (who was also a big time foodie) went for chemo it took a while for her to get an appetite back. In between the chemo messing with her taste buds, appetite and the general fear, she pretty much nibbled on what Sloan-Kettering offered (lunch boxes of tuna salad sandwiches and the like). After a few months she gradually started eating extremely tasty foods cooked in a healthy way. Mostly Caribbean cooked by her home-care nurses. They included, if I remember correctly, around 60% meat/fish/chicken, 30% veggies and 10% starch. Throw on top some delicious sauce/toppings/gravies as well. Other than that, we'd go out for sushi, she'd buy her cheeses and nuts from the Co-op and so on, She also came to enjoy mung beans after discovering their supposed health benefit. In short: I believe what a few others have said in that her personal taste will evolve. I might also add that she may want to go on an "herbal" route to actually give her an appetite.

                                                                                                                                          If by chance she's getting treatment at Sloan-Kettering, they do have a remarkable nutrition department. Especially for short term appetite problems.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: David11238

                                                                                                                                            It really is great of people to SHARE what they know on this subject from experience...David, that was a fabulous post...there is so much information here on this thread, thanks to all--it may help many of us out someday too for ourselves or a family member.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                                                                                              Thanks, Val. I appreciate the comp.

                                                                                                                                              Maybe there outta be a chemo and/or cancer board. To compare notes from people going through, or having gone through treatment, and survivors of cancer patients. I don't see why anyone going through chemo, or not, should be denied their culinary rights because of treatment and/or fear. Medical advice being strictly forbidden, of course. But strictly comparing experiences with foods could prove very therapeutic to patient and spouse/family/friend alike.

                                                                                                                                          2. In need of a couple of things:

                                                                                                                                            1. Something for a sore throat, and
                                                                                                                                            2. Some nutritious soups that aren't too spicy.

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: DPGood

                                                                                                                                              I would go with lentil soup. Maybe even matzoh ball with extra chicken meat if you need to maintain weight. Plus it's always fun to have matzoh ball soup. As far as sore throat, I'd check with your doctor and/or nutritionist and make sure stuff like ginger, tumeric, green tea, oranges doesn't conflict with your meds or chemotherapy.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: David11238

                                                                                                                                                Will pass the matzoh ball soup suggestion on. Yumm! Maintaining the weight would be a welcome plus. With the regard to checking with the doctor and/or nutritionist about the sore throat, that's the only good and correct advice. TY.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DPGood

                                                                                                                                                  Actually, a list of forbidden foods, seasonings, additives and so on should be provided. I say this because when my mom went for chemo she was told to avoid certain things like green leaf veggies and green tea (I believe) because of the Vitamin K. I believe she was also told to avoid cardamon and cumin. However, she did delight in sushi with all the fixins and other gastronomic delights.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: David11238

                                                                                                                                                    The "avoid" list is not the same from chemo to chemo. What was true for your mother is probably not universal. I was told to avoid raw greens, but only due to being immune suppressed, not due to a Vitamin conflict.

                                                                                                                                                    In general, talk with your oncologist directly about supplements or foods that might hinder the chemo's ability to do its job.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: DPGood

                                                                                                                                                When on chemo, I loved Pho, a soup broth from my local [and very good] Chinese restaurant, homemade Chicken Noodle and cold carrot with a bit of cumin. Though the carrot soup didn't have tons of nutrients, it was delicious. I didn't have problems with weight loss since I was on tons of steroids, but if that is an issue, a bit of creme fraiche placed in the middle of the bowl would add calories and be beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                Other soups I could imagine eating would be a simple fish chowder, potato and leeks, a creamed cauliflower in a chicken broth, etc. To be honest, the lentils would have seemed like way too much work to eat! All those little lentils needing to be chewed.

                                                                                                                                                Avoid tomatoes and other high acid soups unless that is a current craving. I always went with the cravings since eating did turn into a bit of a chore.

                                                                                                                                              3. I am a head and neck cancer survivor.  Treatment is extremely harsh.  I had severe mouth sores and burns, and was on a peg tube for 18 months.  I didn't eat anything at all by mouth for 9 months.  

                                                                                                                                                For me, no salt and no pepper or any spices could be used.   A high speed emulsifier/blender like a vitamix or HealthMaster was literally a life saver.  I made a lot of smoothies, and still have one every day.  

                                                                                                                                                Here is a smoothie that has almost 600 cals and is packed with nutrition: 

                                                                                                                                                1 medium apple
                                                                                                                                                1 medium carrot 
                                                                                                                                                1 banana
                                                                                                                                                3 leaves of romaine 
                                                                                                                                                1 tbs almond butter
                                                                                                                                                1 cup milk
                                                                                                                                                1 tbs flax seed oil
                                                                                                                                                1 tbs protein powder
                                                                                                                                                Heaping tsp L-Glutamine powder.  Heals mouth sores from mucusitis and helps prevent muscle loss. 

                                                                                                                                                In addition to home made rich meat broths, made with good bones, so it was full of gelatin, and lots of vitamins from the veg, I also made Magic Mineral Broth. 


                                                                                                                                                I did use canned liquid nutrition and Ensure as well.   Many of the things already mentioned, and I liked BoltHouse farms protein drinks, too.  Especially, the Mocha Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Chai, Berry Boost, and strawberry banana.  They were good if I was out and about, or sometimes I would add vanilla ice-cream to make a shake with them.   

                                                                                                                                                Soft, bland foods were key.  Lots of well cooked oatmeal, jook, and congee type dishes.   Things that would require chewing, were not an option. I would purée and make a lot of cream soups in my HealthMaster to eat. I could purée and strain fruit and veg smoothies, and even put them through my peg tube when I couldn't swallow.

                                                                                                                                                1. Both Maine and New Mexico have medical marijuana laws for good reason
                                                                                                                                                  When my wonderful father had to go through chemo in Las Vegas, I flew out to be w/ him. For a man w/ a healthy appitite, he couldn't eat a thing and we were worried. I asked my nieces for some pot and sat by my bro's swimming pool smoking a joint w/ my 85 year old dad. I'm not a usual pot smoker at all. Dad was willing to try anything, he felt so shitty. We got to giggling and he did want to eat. Five years later he did die of a reoccurance of the cancer.
                                                                                                                                                  Why will I probably get deleted for this, but CHer's can write prolifically about their under age drinking in college? A double standard?

                                                                                                                                                  1. when my 25 year old son was going through chemo for hodgkins (ABVD chemo) he'd have me run down to the hospital kiosk and pick him up a tuna grinder, sometimes a cup of clam chowder soup, and a coke. this would be at the start of chemo--hours later, getting unhooked to go home, he'd have turned green/white, but still, two weeks later, next chemo, he was ready for another tuna grinder (six months of chemo) He was also starving all the time, (when not horribly sick) because of steroids, and ate tons of icecream and gained about 60 lbs. (all lost now :-)) When he was too sick to eat in morning, and during radiation that killed his throat, he'd go with Carnation Instant Breakfast drinks.

                                                                                                                                                    1. to dbgood--for a sore throat, ask your doc for something called "magic mouthwash"

                                                                                                                                                      1. http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-...

                                                                                                                                                        A touching story about a daughter making a cake for her mother undergoing chemo

                                                                                                                                                        1. Bumping this to thank everyone who posted their ideas/experiences here (and on similar threads). We've been going through this dance with my hubby and I also wanted to post a few additional things that have worked for him.

                                                                                                                                                          First thing in the morning, he has a mug of chicken broth enriched with a few tablespoons of homemade bone broth. my Korean friend has been bringing us the bone broth but I think it's pretty simple to make - soak soup bones in cold water for a day, then simmer the heck out of them. On days when DH has mouth sore I'll add a few slices of fresh ginger to the chicken broth and simmer for a little while.

                                                                                                                                                          My Korean friend is also bringing us the soup made with fermented soybean paste, I think it's called doenjang. DH likes the salty flavor and it supposed to be very nutritious.

                                                                                                                                                          Sweet Korean ginger tea. I buy the concentrate in a jar at a Korean market, but you can also make it yourself. One of my cookbooks gives a recipe of 4 oz sliced fresh gingerrott, simmered in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes. Add lots of honey to taste.

                                                                                                                                                          Soft scrambled eggs, made French-style with small curds. For some reason the smaller curds are more appealing to DH than the usual style of scrambling eggs. I cook them in a cast iron skillet (I'm cooking EVERYTHING in cast iron lately, to get that extra bit of iron) with lots of butter and start off the scrambling part with a chopstick. One the eggs are about half-cooked I switch to a heatproof spatula and stir in some shredded cheese. When the eggs are all done I add a few tablespoon or two of heavy cream for extra calories and creaminess.

                                                                                                                                                          We are also doing Carnation Instant breakfast, Boost choc. flavor and the whey powder for lots of extra protein. DH likes the vanilla flavor whey powder mxed with orange juice; he says it tastes like a creamsicle and the acid of the juice helps to dissolve the powder. I would have thought that the acid of the juice would hurt his mouth but I guess the whey helps mask that.

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, and to keep hydrated, our NP suggested SmartWater instead of sports drinks - it's just water with electrolytes, so no nasty sports drink taste. Trader Joe's carries their own version which is much less expensive, too.

                                                                                                                                                          1. http://www.cancernutritionconsortium....

                                                                                                                                                            This new resource was discussed on TV news this afternoon.
                                                                                                                                                            It contains recipes developed in consultation with hospital chefs, culinary education professionals, cancer treatment professionals, dietitians, and patients, based on 1200 surveys completed at seven cancer hospitals nationwide.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                              Wow. One of the first things that gets funky on chemo is your eyesight.... who can read those tiny recipe titles? Really too bad that they went for style over usability.

                                                                                                                                                              Such a good idea. Hope they re-evaluate how sick people can use it.