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foods: I noticed more than one person is having difficulty with eating after treatment for mouth cancer. Could we discuss this?

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2008

After treatment (radio and chemo) for mouth cancer, I have a combination of dry mouth and "ropy" saliva and have trouble swallowing. What foods have other people found easy to swallow under similar conditions? Most starchy foods like bread, cookies, cake, rice pudding, etc. turn into a nasty mass of library paste in my mouth.

HAWVET's picture
Posts: 318
Joined: Apr 2006

I had made a log book and cannot seem to locate it since it has been just over 10 years ago. I also did not have an appetite and at the end of my treatment, was only drinking one can of ensure a day. I lost a lot of weight and it took me about two months before I could drink three cans with what little food I was eating. I later swapped to Boost which to me, tasted slightly better.

I drank a lot of soups during that period. I believe someone who recently was treated would provide other recommendations. I eat my sandwiches dipped in cream of mushroom soup. If I want to eat a sandwich without dipping in soup, I eat a tomato sandwich.

Posts: 98
Joined: May 2005

The first foods are definitely soups (French onion worked for me) and soupy oatmeal, cream of wheat or porridge. Then softly scrambled eggs. Softly cooked vegetables work well. The first pasta that I could eat was angel hair pasta. You will need to try different foods on different days because your eating situation will improve. Jello works well also. The breads and meats will come later.

For many months, food was my main topic of conversation. It was a delight to find something that I could get down. It was even better when I re-discover taste. For a while, you will just enjoy the texture of the foods. The first meats that I could eat was lunch/deli meats because they are moist and not stringy.

Let us know how things go.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Yogurt is good...it comes in a number of flavors and is actually great for digestion. My nutritionist put this one first on her list. Also, try smoothies and ice cream with various toppings for variety. In addition, consider pureeing fruits and vegetables (probably not together :))

The most critical thing in the long wrong may be to be sure to start using those jaw muscles now, so that they don't atrophy on you.

It is indeed frustrating, but as another respondent said, keep trying new things and you will be surprised, day by day, at your improvement.

Best wishes!

Take care,


Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2008

As everyone else has said,start out with soups.The bread is a bummer.I love bread and have the same problem you do.I still have to dip my sandwiches in something in order to get it down.After 5 years the mouth is still very dry..Saliva is nil and the doctor has me drinking ensure plus again because I don't eat like I used to.I do eat ice cream and yogurt because it goes down easy.I too bought a food processor and that has helped a great deal.I found too that if I eat roast beef I need to chop it up and use lots of gravy on it and mashed potatoes and it goes down pretty easy.Take smaller bites than you used to,That too will help and chew...chew...chew!!!If anyone else out there can help please do.Good luck to you and don't get discouraged.God Bless

Posts: 13
Joined: Sep 2008

Hi Pichan,

When my husband was undergoing treatment and shortly after I made him fried, soft boiled or poached eggs almost every day. They were not acidic when he had mouth burns and sores. He would sometimes eat 3 or 4 eggs at a time because he could not eat bread or pancakes as you well know. He also ate pudding, jello and carnation instant breakfast made with whole milk. I would make him fruit smoothies out of almost anything fruity; canned fruit, fresh fruit, yogurt, and add cream, whole milk, protein powder and fiber. It was difficult to get the calories in he needed, and he lost 50 pounds. He would get tired of eating before he filled up and was rarely satisfied from his meals. We had to watch the acidity when he had mouth sores, but canned fruit had less acid than fresh sometimes. Also we bought "Ensure Plus" (expensive but convenient), and Odwalla drinks from the health food store.

As recommended by another person, gravey, mashed potatoes, and soups go down well... especially creamy soups, and they were filling. You mentioned ropy saliva; try to drink small sips of water or milk to help swallow your food. It has been 9 months since he has finished treatment, and he still cannot eat sandwiches very well. He can eat egg sandwiches if they have lots of ketchup or mayo on them and if the bread is soft. Do you like eggs? If not, then it is even harder to get your protein. I wish you the best of luck. Let me know how you are doing. I know it's really tough, but hang in there. It seems to get better with baby steps.


Posts: 9
Joined: Oct 2007

Please refer to the discussion board I placed several months ago: Protecting the Salivary Glands while on Radiation.

dedesert's picture
Posts: 17
Joined: Aug 2008

I found that practically all dry foods need to be washed down with a mild drink of some kind. As time goes on , the glands may heal and the water
requirement may lessen. Our bodies become easily dehydrated anyway so just keep drinking the water, eating as much as you can and heal.

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