How to manage eating problems

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How to manage eating problems
How to manage eating problems

Treatments for pancreatic cancer, such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biologic therapy, can cause eating problems. Here are some steps you can take to manage common eating-related effects of cancer treatment.


Appetite loss Drink liquids that add calories and other nutrients such as soup, juice, and milk and soy-based drinks with protein throughout the day, even if you do not feel like eating. Eat five or six small meals instead of three large meals and only sip small amounts of liquid while eating. Keep snacks available for when you feel like eating.


Changes in sense of smell Choose foods that smell and taste good to you, and avoid foods with smells that bother you. Minimize food smells by cooking outdoors, using a kitchen fan, opening lids away from you, and serving foods at room temperature. Plastic utensils may help reduce the metal taste in your mouth.


Changes in sense of taste Enhance taste of foods with sweeteners and herbs and spices. Marinate meats in fruit juices, salad dressing, or packaged marinades. Avoid foods that do not look appealing or taste strange to you.


Diarrhea Drink plenty of fluids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea. Eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. You should eat and drink foods high in sodium and potassium such as bouillon, fat-free broth, and bananas. Low-fiber foods can also help when you have diarrhea. 


Nausea Eating smaller amounts of food more often may help keep nausea under control. Eat plain yogurt, white toast, and clear broth, which may be easier on your stomach. 


Sore mouth Eat foods that are soft and easy to chew such as scrambled eggs and custards. Cook foods until they are very soft and tender, and cut foods into small pieces. Eat foods that are cool or at room temperature. Avoid salty foods, tomatoes and ketchup, citrus fruits and juices, raw vegetables, and crunchy foods.


Vomiting After the vomiting stops, drink small amounts of clear liquids. Move up to full-liquid foods and drinks when you can tolerate clear liquids without vomiting. Slowly add solid foods as you start feeling better. Eat five or six small meals a day instead of three large ones, and do not eat favorite foods so you do not begin to dislike them. ONA


Source: National Cancer Institute. Eating problems and ways to manage them. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/eatinghints/page4. Accessed December 2, 2011.


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