Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Special Diets >
Dec 4, 2013 12:11 AM

Neutropenic diet - any tips?

I'm on a neutropenic ('clean') diet and will be for the next few months.
Has anyone in Chowland done this and maintained their sanity?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes. My husband was on a very strict diet for months after his stem cell transplant: no restaurant food, no fresh veggies or fruits, deli neat only from a package and it had to be heated to steaming first, etc.

    I remember that he would put pepperoncini on sandwiches since he wasn't able to have lettuce & tomato. He ate a lot of vegetable soups for lunch to get his veggies in.

    What guidelines did your dr give you?

    6 Replies
    1. re: gimlis1mum

      I'm still in hospital so am eating (forcing down) what they give me. I don't eat meat and can't eat pulses, so the choices available to me are extremely limited.
      After my stem cell transplant I'll be cooking for myself (can't wait!) and I've been given a leaflet with lots of dos and don'ts.
      I am allowed thick skinned fruit that I can peel (tangerines etc.) and 'well washed salad' though the hospital gets pre-prepped salad so won't let me eat it here.
      My biggest issue at the moment is that friends want to bring me food, but there is so little that would be suitable. I am missing nice cheese, salad, nuts...

      I had a smuggled-in avocado last night - bliss!

      1. re: Peg

        I feel for you - hospital food is bad, but hospital food on the transplant floor is downright awful. They kept over cooking everything...

        Seems like you have an appetite though, which is great. Can your friends bring you ice cream? That was something my hubby couldn't get from the hospital food service - it was always melted by the time it arrived.

        I made a post on the Home Cooking board about the post-transplant diet restrictions, maybe something there will be helpful:

        Do you eat eggs, tofu, fish? What are pulses?

        Hope you get to go home soon. And that you washed your avocado before you peeled it :)

        1. re: gimlis1mum

          How is your husband faring? I know this treatment regime can go one of several ways.

          The hospital has ice-cream and veg soup available round the clock - but I'm not on the transplant ward yet so maybe they're different. I'm told the transplant can cause a very painful mouth, so maybe all I will want to eat will be soup and ice-cream.

          The hot meals they serve here are white-carb based, which is not what I am used to but I guess I just need to adapt.
          I'm supposed to avoid soy (due to a previous cancer), pulses cause me 'intestinal distress' - but eggs and fish are fine, though I can only have them overcooked!
          I'll check out your home cooking thread for when I get to go home. Even within the restrictions I know I can do a lot better than the hospital food.

          It amazes me that so much money is invested in drugs and equipment, yet food (which surely is part of the treatment) is so underfunded. (I am in the UK, which may work differently to US hospitals).

          1. re: Peg

            My husband did OK through the transplant and recovery. Everyone's experience is different, depending on the treatment protocol, other health issues, how much chemo you had before, etc. He had a rough time of it but then didn't remember the worst of it later, fortunately.

            Unfortunately, the transplant did not cure his lymphoma, and while we were gearing up for a second transplant we learned that he also had gastric cancer. So his case was pretty unique - I called him "Mr. Improbability" for all of the crazy complications/confounding factors that he had. I don't know which cancer got him in the end, not that it really matters.

            There doesn't seem to be a lot of focused nutritional support here in the US either. Or that was our experience, at least. We went to a major cancer center here in Boston, and while there were some pamphlets floating around about nutrition it wasn't until my hubby was going through chemo for the stomach cancer that he had a consult with a nutritionist. (To be fair, we hadn't asked for one - I thought i knew what I was doing with feeding him - but in retrospect i was surprised that it hadn't been mentioned earlier).

            Someone posted a link on this board, about a cancer nutritional resource. I looked around a bit at the website - it doesn't seem to be fully up yet but there are some recipes on there that might be useful.

            Post-transplant, I tried to encourage my hubby to eat lots of protein and healthy fats. Not only is your bone marrow regenerating but your whole body is recovering from the chemo - that's gotta take a lot of protein and fats to rebuild all that tissue, right? So, I tried to get some protein into every meal.

            Breakfast was a couple of scrambled eggs, if he was in the mood for them. Do you know the trick of adding a little cream at the end? That way you can cook them to doneness to satisfy your requirements but still get the creaminess (and a little extra fat too).

            I also fed him a lot of soups made with bone broth to get extra nutrition, though that won't work if you don't eat meat. You might try a Korean-style anchovy broth instead, made with kelp (kombu) and dried anchovies, to get some of the mineral benefits.

            But really, as many others will tell you, eat what appeals to you first and foremost. Can you arrange to have a friend do your grocery shopping, or have things delivered? Can friends do some of the cooking? At least some soups so you have something on hand when you are too tired to cook? Maybe the folks who want to bring things to you now, can redirect their energy to making/bringing foods for you after.

            I'll be thinking of you & hoping that your treatment goes as well as possible, with the best possible outcome.

            1. re: gimlis1mum

              I'm so sorry you lost him - especially after such a struggle.

              I too am a dual-cancer patient; the breast cancer is in remission while the leukaemia has appeared less than a year later. I know my odds are not great, I just don't want to spend the rest of my life eating terrible food!
              I can get groceries delivered, though I understand I'll be in hospital for about a month following the transplant.

              1. re: Peg

                Ugh. That stinks. I hope you beat the odds.

                But I don't think you are doomed to eat terrible food! You will find a way to work with the limitations they give you.

                Although you've been going through treatments already, you may find that the treatment to prepare for stem cell transplant affects your tastes differently. As I recall, my hubby had a transient aversion to fish, and couldn't stand the taste of plain water.

                Please check in periodically, if you can, and let us (I assume i'm not the only one reading this thread!) know how you're doing. Then we can give more specific tips on eating/recipes as you progress through your recovery.

    2. Bumping this in case you're still out there. I'm hoping things went smoothly as possible with your transplant and you are able to find something to eat that appeals to you :-)

      3 Replies
      1. re: gimlis1mum

        I'm still here... the transplant is in late Feb/March, I'm still having the chemo.
        I've lost a huge amount of weight, which is a mixed blessing. I'll need fewer stem cells, but I also need to keep strong.

        1. re: Peg

          No wise foodie advice, just wanted to say that I wish you well!

          1. re: Peg

            Oh, sorry for my misunderstanding. I'll keep rooting for you!