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Appetite Stimulant?

NoDuck
Posts: 134
Joined: May 2012

Hubby is 6 weeks post last rad. Stage III tonsil cancer. He has been peg tube dependent for all nutrition and liquids since about the fourth week of treatment, so for about two months now. Doc is encouraging him to try to start eating some liquids, soft foods. He says he wants to but he struggled so much with nausea during and after treatment (caused by chemo, rads, meds, mucous, etc) he hasn't tried to eat for fear of getting sick.

I'm wondering if I could find something to stimulant his appetite, it might just push him past his fear of getting sick. He does not feel hungry and while food looks good, nothing sounds good. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

Deb

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8100
Joined: Sep 2009

Deb, while I didn't have the PEG, I did mainly survive on Ensure during the rough times.

Now one thing that I di like a lot, and eat routinely was sweetned DelMonte Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup.

They slid down with minimal effort, but kept the throat muscles working.

I also ate canned, frozen and fresh spinach..something I always liked before treatment.

Anyways, those are a fe of my foods that worked for me.

BTW, I too was STGIII Tonsils...

Best,
John

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 3067
Joined: May 2012

Hi Deb,

Is he drinking water, smoothies, milk, etc? If he is then just offer him (one) bite of something (banana, mashed potatoes, canned peaches, etc.). Can he swallow very well? If everything is ok physically, then the mental obstacle needs to be overcome. I know, living on the PEG is easy, getting nauseated from food leaves an impression. Since his doctor says to eat, I agree, just don’t force it, encourage it, (little at a time).

Remember, (for most of us fresh off the cooker) nothing is going to taste good, nothing at all (worst case). It seems that many of us have found a few items that are (barley) palatable. You just need to figure out what those things are.

I don’t think you want to give him anything to stimulate his desire to eat. What are you thinking about?

Best,

Matt

fisrpotpe's picture
fisrpotpe
Posts: 1343
Joined: Aug 2010

not going to be easy for him. has not been easy for any of us survivors.

i know one guy locally that chose not to eat and now he is on feeding tube and does not like that now.

I did not have a tube, actually when i did my first fight it was not an option. for me it is smell that takes me to eating as i do not have my taste. it is all about trying to me normal which we know will never happen but in the eating world by mouth would be normal.

not sure what the best advice would be for you hubby and i wish i had the answer. i do know if i were his brother we would most definitely have a talk to help motivate. nothing like a brother and younger brother would be better to challenge him or a grandfather to visit one on one.

prayer for you, your hubby and family being sent.

john

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5881
Joined: Apr 2009

The best way is to make stuff that smells really good it will stimulate his brain then just keep trying different things, for me the first time I smelled and tasted Popeye’s Chicken my brain went crazy.

Hope it works
Hondo

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

I do think the doctor is right, your hubby needs to start taking fluids and food by mouth. Does he swallow at all? I know that sounds like a crazy question but I know a lady who after 4 or 5 years does not swallow even her own saliva. She psyched herself up so much about the nausea, vomiting, mucous and all that. Now she is dependent on the tube while going thru therapy emotional and physical, to learn how to swallow again. She has become so used to doing it this new way that she doesn't have desire to change. You don't want that to happen with your husband so I think the doctor is right in wanting him to eat.

Things will taste different to him but he will be able to find something that works, it may just take time. Many of us have had success with canned or jarred peaches and mashed potatoes....just a start. Expose him to lots of smells, I promise as soon as he opens up to the idea to trying to eat he will be able to find something. I had good luck with banana pudding, Greek yogurt and several soups and broths. Good luck with this next crazy stage of the healing process, he is lucky to have such a caring wife and caregiver.
Come back often and let us know how he is doing. I'm sure many will post what worked for them as far as eating goes.
Take care,
Billie

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 697
Joined: Aug 2010

Once again, I respond with something not exactly the answer to your question. But during and after radiation, I found the food/liquids at or near body temperature were less painful than either cold or hot foods. I know this was not your question but I thought I throw in my two cents anyway. Rick.

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3821
Joined: Mar 2012

if you do get him to eat, keep things at room temp or body temp.

Now tho, how to stimulate his appetite? Smell is the biggie for me. I can't eat but a bite or two of this of that (I'm still pretty much on Boost and Ensure for all my real nutrucian)...but I get the "hungries" being out and about, smelling food. The other night I took our kids to a Mexican resteraunt and had 4 bites of a cheese enchilada. :)...didn't taste all that good, but I felt like I'd accomplished something.

Mashed spuds, and mac and cheese are good starters...I think your man may be surprised that some of his tastebuds have come back....at least for the first few bites. I tried watermelon again the other day, and ate about 6 bites of that before it lost it's flavor.

I'm like everyone here....concerned that he might lose his swallower....getting that back in no joke...it's tough....

I'm sure he's crawled onto a snotty horse in his life, where he didn't know if he was going to be eating dirt, or if Mr. horsey was going to cooperate...this is one of those times....take a bite of spuds, and just see what you're up against. :)

p

NoDuck
Posts: 134
Joined: May 2012

Thanks for all the suggestions friends. He can swallow. Even had a swallow test and was told he had "a beautiful swallow." so it's more psychological I think and the fact he is not hungry.

I will stock up on some of your suggestions. The groceries in the house are pretty limited since I took his non-eating as an opportunity to rid the house of the junk food. The smells of my nightly grilled veggies and chicken breast sure haven't made him want to eat ! His smeller does work and apparently really well. He told me the other night it smelled like I got too much garlic in my veggies.

I think I'll brew up some of the Magic Mineral Broth again. Haven't done that for a couple of months. It smells good and the smeller just might be the stimulant that does the trick.

Thanks to you all.

Deb

blackswampboy's picture
blackswampboy
Posts: 341
Joined: Jul 2012

yeah, get him to watch the food channel.

6 weeks out from rads really isn't long. how are his taste buds doing? it's really hard to get an appetite when nothing tastes right.
unless the doc is worried about his swallowing muscles or some such, be patient with him. suspect that he'll want to start eating again when healing is further along and food doesn't taste like cardboard and library paste.

I'm 8 weeks out of rads for tonsil cancer myself and still using the tube. I'd love to eat, but every time I try it's just disappointing. just tasteless glop. sore mouth doesn't help either. but I'm confident that when stuff actually starts tasting good and eating is a pleasant experience, it'll be a new ballgame.

Tonsil Dad's picture
Tonsil Dad
Posts: 488
Joined: Dec 2011

Blackswampboy, I'm 18 weeks out of rads for tonsil cancer and doing great,
taste is still up and down but I'm eating everything (almost everything ) sweet
still a little off. I can taste the first few bites of anything then it goes away, my only
problem is I have no saliva but I'm being patient as I'm hopeful it will come back.
I look at the way Johns (Skiffin) recovery has gone it took him over two years to
get all taste and saliva back and he didn't have a peg either ( I didn't ) so as long
as I'm this side of the grass I will be patient.

God bless
Tonsil dad,

Dan.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8100
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Dan....

Just to clarify..., I did have more than enough taste to sustain a good life at a few months post treatment.

But to get all taste back...(Ice Cream was especially stubborn...sweet specifically)...it took all of two years.

You guys/gals, more than likely will get a lot of taste back the first 6 - 7 months or sooner.

But some of that kind of comes and goes, or leaves after a few bites of a specific food.

If something didn't taste good, or just taste right... I'd leave it for a few months and try again.

Best,
John

yensid683
Posts: 241
Joined: Apr 2012

I can relate to the reticence of not wanting to eat and avoid getting sick. I too had a similar experience during treatments. Having completed a round of induction chemo (tax, cisplatin and 5 fu) I had no desire to eat anything, nausea that could light up Las Vegas! I couldn't even bear the thought of drinking water.

Long story short I wound up back in the hospital and on a liquid diet. I didn't want to even try to eat or drink for fear that I'd simply vomit it all back up. I got to the point that my blood sugar fell to a critical level and then decided that if I wanted to get better, I HAD to 'eat' I decided to just 'do it' to borrow a marketing phrase. Yes, there was the chance that I'd get sick to my stomach, but it was a chance I had to take. I would slam down liquids, jello, broth, juice etc, and while I felt queasy, I kept it down and felt better.

My wife kept pushing me before I made the decision to eat, and I can understand where you're coming from, it will have to be him that decides to eat.

I hope things turn out well for you

Peter

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

I think the reason only the first few bites of something tastes good is because our saliva helps with so much and taste is one of the things it helps. The first few bites are ok because we have the saliva but then we dry up. It's hard to swallow and taste. I have found that if I go slow and wait a few minutes, my saliva will start to pick up again and I can taste a few more bites. Drinking milk with food seems to help too as it seems to stimulate or at least mimic saliva. At 9 weeks it is getting a little better tho. With any hope and luck we will all get it back.

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

I think the reason only the first few bites of something tastes good is because our saliva helps with so much and taste is one of the things it helps. The first few bites are ok because we have the saliva but then we dry up. It's hard to swallow and taste. I have found that if I go slow and wait a few minutes, my saliva will start to pick up again and I can taste a few more bites. Drinking milk with food seems to help too as it seems to stimulate or at least mimic saliva. At 9 weeks it is getting a little better tho. With any hope and luck we will all get it back.

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1991
Joined: Jun 2012

Might want to try room temp 7-up since 7-up is associated with relieving nausea and not causing it. Same with popsicles and clear soups. Those might work if it's a mental thing about nausea.
I seem to shy away from the things I was big on during tx, like pudding, tapioca, etc. there is still an association between those foods and the tx for me. First chemo I packed a lunch of cottage cheese and sliced canned peaches. While I did not get sick, my stomach still turns 13 weeks post tx to think about either food and John is always bringing those darn peaches up :-)
When you cook for yourself try an old favorite of his..the aroma might spark his interest.
I was anxious to get rid of the feeding tube but also realized it was the easy way out when getting nutrients. While I have a good sense of taste today, eating takes so long and does sometimes seem more of a bother than anything else.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8100
Joined: Sep 2009

They worked for me....amd ROZ if I remember correctly, LOL...

I can post up some photos of good ole St. Louis BBQ if you like...

JG

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1991
Joined: Jun 2012

Talk about good smells...very light on the sauce these days. I'm still amazed at the number of people that have never heard of or had pork steaks.

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1254
Joined: Aug 2009

for stimulating appetite and relieving anxiety. If you are in a state where it is legal for medical purposes then either use a vaporizer or get the doc to give you the pill form. It's routinely used medically for chronic wasting disease and HIV patients. We have exactly the same issues. It's also a great anxiety and tension reliever. Seriously, try the pill form under a medical prescription and see if it doesn't solve both those issues. Absolutely do not smoke it !

NoDuck
Posts: 134
Joined: May 2012

I read to Dale each of your posts today. I got as far as Phrannies before I had to head to the office for awhile.

When I got home, there was a six-pack of applesauce on the counter that he went to town and bought this morning. He hasnt tried any yet, but at least he bought it.

He went to pick up horse feed today and said he nearly stopped at his favorite restaurant for just the gravy part of biscuits and gravy. But he chickened out, afraid he would get sick in public.

This afternoon I read him the last of your posts. He now has me making a grocery list for him tomorrow!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Deb

longtermsurvivor's picture
longtermsurvivor
Posts: 1830
Joined: Mar 2010

too many problems. takes too long. Choking. My nose runs like a faucet too. Adding public pressure isnt gonna help, as you know. Have him just do one bite. Not a whole meal. Man, food looked great to me the whole treatment. There are so many things I still just cant eat. But I am working on it. I dont have much apetite either. Eating solids takes so long I get full, so a significant amount of my calories are still from liquid supplements. It may take a long time to get this back, but he has a long time.

Pat

PS. methytestosterone is used to stimulate apetite.

VivianLee5689's picture
VivianLee5689
Posts: 546
Joined: Aug 2012

I just want to say everyone here is so awesome. My husband hasn't started his treatments yet, but I can already tell between his doctors and this site he is in capable hands. I am learning so much about his cancer and treatment on this site, and so much about the wonderful sense of community you have here. YOU ROCK!!! Cancer picked the wrong people because you are wonderful warriors and are so encouraging to each other. I'm not glad to go through this, but glad to have you on OUR team.

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