Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 24, 2014 09:21 AM

Coping With Cancer, Chemo, Radiation & Food Changes

Hopefully we can help each other & loved ones to come up with recipes or ideas during the difficult times of chemo treatments & afterwards.

I was thinking perhaps we could start with some recipes that we could "dress down" for those who aren't tolerating spicy things or "dress up" for those who need the extra taste to enjoy flavor. Soup is an ideal thing to accomplish this. I am sure you all have many other ideas. Please share.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It is my experience that some people react differently during chemo and radiation treatments. Soup can be ideal as you said.

    Carrot Ginger Soup
    The ginger may help to soothe a stomach but you can control how much ginger for those that may find it too spicy.

    A loaded baked potato which doesn't have a recipe but can be filled with the toppings that they feel they can eat.

    Baked Potato Soup as well

    A simple snack: home made hummus dressed up or just regular with just some pita.

    Something as simple as baked chicken and rice with a low key veggie might help as well.

    Ratatouille over polenta

    A friend of mine after going through radiation for a brain tumor found comfort in milk shakes. If the person is able to consume milk and dairy this is always fun. and Pudding for dessert would be another option.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

      Great ideas - the baked potato soup sounds great to me - can be bland or kicked up with different toppings.

      In fact, I am hoping to think of other things for potatoes - they last longer than other produce. Sweet potatoes too!

      1. re: cstout

        baked sweet potato fries

        you might be able to get away with a shepard's pie with some mashed potatoes if you used ground bison, which is leaner and probably less agitating.

        A mock chicken pot pie with a mash potato crust instead of a regular crust might be good too.

        Scalloped Potatoes

        baked sweet potato home fries

      2. re: Sandwich_Sister

        Glad you mentioned radiation, I forgot about that. Yes, those folks have their own set of food problems too.

        So much of this is uncharted territory & we are left helpless as to how deal with these major lifestyle changes. If only it were cut & dried.

        1. re: cstout

          I think this a great launching point. and you can listen to them and they will tell you want makes sense for them.

          and know that they appreciate the food even if they don't feel like eating much of it.

      3. I'm just linking to a couple of previous threads (that you've already seen, cstout) for easy access:

        cstout's thread on frozen vegetables:

        Jim Leff's thread ChemoHounding

        Peg's thread on Neutropenic diet:


        1 Reply
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Thanks for posting the extra links DQ

        2. Interesting topic

          My dad is on his 6th and thankfully last week of Chemo. It seems he cannot eat anything but ensure and shakes right now, and not even much of that.

          I brought him some Lancaster Cty whole milk Amish yoghurts when I visited this weekend in hopes that it is something calorie dense and nutritious he can get down. I am hoping as he recovers after the cessation of treatment that I can find other foods to bring when I visit that he can tolerate.

          Oddly he has been coping by cooking for others - visiting family from overseas - for the last weeks and has been cooking for them every night while they are out and about in NYC and environs all day - while It may sound like a burden it is clear that he got great pleasure from this effort.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JTPhilly

            Wow, cooking for others - wish I had the strength to do that. I can certainly see his point in doing so - he is watching others eat the foods he can't eat at this time. What a wonderful & generous way to share.

            One thing I have learned is not to stock up on any one food in large quantities. I was so craving some Ensure & went out & bought tons of it. Guess what? Can't stand the stuff now. Even tried it frozen. Lost the ticket so can't return it - wish I was close enough to send your dad my stash.

            1. re: JTPhilly

              I was surprised my friend with the brain tumor liked dairy for some reason I thought she wouldn't.

              Yoghurt or yogurt smoothies would be a great idea especially when they don't always feel like solid foods.

              1. re: JTPhilly

                That is really great!!!!! Sounds like he is on the upswing!!
                What has he been making?...Maybe he wants to post here as well...?

              2. I've cooked for a handful of people going through treatment and they all had different reactions and tolerances (some of which changed part way through the process,) some also had different lists of things they were told to avoid during treatment by their doctors. Some examples are that one was told to eat low carb to keep her insulin down because it made the treatment more effective, another was told to avoid all soy, one got mouth ulcers and couldn't eat anything and had to go all liquid as high calorie as possible. So, please share that with the people cooking- it's really helpful to have lots of information. :)

                4 Replies
                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  This is sort of similar to what I have experienced. It really is different from person to person.

                  One person reported a metallic taste to most or certain foods. and had to work hard to eat.

                  Another was fine with soups that were bland

                  and one other seemed to like milk shakes.

                  It's important to listen to the individual and see what fits for them.

                  But nothing wrong with throwing out some ideas and seeing if anything works.,

                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                    I totally agree, it's just my PSA and plea for information as someone who cooks for other people frequently. :)

                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                      Yeah I think it's important for people to know that sometimes they are really sick or have restrictions. But they do appreciate the efforts.

                      I do find it interesting that dairy seems to work for a lot of them. My friend went from her happy hour to milk shake hour. I always found that funny and a blessing that she was being so positive.

                      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                        That's great and I'll remember milkshakes if my neighbor has to go through more treatment this summer (poor thing has had so many complications and additional surgeries.) She was very small to start with and the more weight she lost the harder the treatments were on her. There are all sorts of things that are high calorie that can be added to milkshakes!

                2. This asparagus soup with parmesan custards worked real well. In fact, frequently Mom ate just the custards while she was going through chemo.

                  In general, frequent snacks worked best--never too empty, never too full. We also tried to pack calories/nutrition into food without it being greasy.

                  Amazingly, she also loved (and tolerated) mild tamales (still does).

                  But it was impossible to predict what would appeal from day to day or hour to hour. And she felt overwhelmed if there were too many choices in her fridge.

                  Best of luck and smoothest of seas to everyone along this journey.