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Sep 9, 2012 12:45 AM

Storecupboard items for chemo

Sorry - yet another chemo thread.
I'm about to start 4 months of chemo (FEC for at least the first 3 doses). I live alone. Many friends have offered to help out, but I want to 'save them up' for emergencies!

All my research tells me that the effects on my appetite etc. are unpredictable, which doesn't help in getting ready for it - what I'd like anyone's advice on is what do I stock up on for those days when I can't shop/cook?

I normally eat low fat, low carb, lots of vegetables and fish (no meat), lots of chillies and spices. I don't have a sweet tooth (though maybe I'll develop one?). I'm particularly keen to have 'ambient temperature' foods to hand as my freezer space is limited.

I rarely use anything that isn't 'fresh' so cannot even think of what to buy - all I've come up with so far is peanut butter. The idea of buying things like canned soup is alien to me - are they any good?
I'm in the UK so I just need generic suggestions, not brand names.


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  1. Peg--used to work in oncology, and from what I've seen, it's just so very hard to predict how one individual will respond to chemo, even if 2 people are having the exact same chemo regimen. Here, the American Cancer Society publishes a helpful booklet (may be on-line, or there's probably a UK equivalent) that can be helpful--protein (like your peanut butter), low spice (sorry) and low aroma foods (weird what can make some folks nauseous). However, when my sister had chemo, she also got anti-nausea drugs, and her after chemo treat was to stop for pepperoni pizza on the way home! Best wishes to you for your health and recovery.

    1. ***I am not a medical professional and this is not professional advice***
      My dad is on chemo. We are trying to steer clear of meats and refined sugars. The foods he has found easiest / most palatable:

      toast with almond butter (we were told no peanuts) and honey; Greek yogurt (the bacteria in high quality yogurt is even more beneficial for chemo patients); sliced apples / pears / peaches; macadamia nuts; meatless non-condensed canned soups like lentil vegetable and tomato (we buy the low sodium varieties); baked Alaskan salmon; spaghetti with butter; and frozen mixed veggies that are cut up small, also with a little butter.

      As pine time implied above, you will probably have to cut back on the chillies and spices.

      There are a few good books out there that give great advice about this. I can post recommendations if you want.

      1. First of all, I'm sorry you need chemo and want to wish you the smoothest course and recovery. You've gotten really good advice, and all I'd add is to lay in some Muscle Milk lite/low carb whey protein shakes and maybe some EAS, their mocha caramel is really good, especially very cold over ice if that's agreeable to you. You might lay in some bags of frozen berries, their comparatively low carb and with milk or yogurt (Greek has the most protein) and ice can make a great smoothie to sip or spoon up. When you feel like crud, the hardest thing to get down is protein and it's the very thing you need for heating and energy.

        Very best to you.

        1. Thanks all for the good ideas and good wishes.
          My first chemo is tomorrow - I don't really expect to be ill with the initial dose, but have laid in Greek yoghurt, vegetable soup (home made) and salmon. I'll get some Sabra hummus too, though it is higher in fat that I usually eat.
          All the flavoured protein shakes I've seen have been sweet (I really don't like sweet things) - but as I've been on a high protein diet for a few months I already have stocks of fat-free milk powder and dried egg-white, so I reckon I can whip something savoury up quite easily. If all else fails I have a stash of freeze-dried powdered raspberries and blueberries, which add a fruitiness without the sugary hit.
          I shall have to Google the 'no peanuts' thing - it's a new one on me!

          **edit - I see the peanut restriction is for a specific chemo drug that I will not be having. It hadn't occurred to me that there would be drug-specific dietary issues - more Googling is required! **

          2 Replies
          1. re: Peg

            Good luck and results with your first chemo session, Peg. You seem to have done a great job of preparation.

            1. re: Peg

              Best of luck to you Peg, and prayers for successful treatment.