This leaflet is for people who are having treatment and want to get the best from their food. As you go through your treatment you may experience difficulty swallowing or soreness in your mouth and throat. This information will help you eat and drink throughout your treatment to maintain a good dietary balance. The leaflet also has suggestions for quick and easy nutritious meals. Contact details for the dietitians are given at the end of the leaflet.
For advice on what makes a healthy diet please see our ‘Healthy eating – your questions answered’ leaflet.
- Avoid very hot and very cold foods and drinks. All food and drink should be lukewarm or at room temperature.
- Avoid highly seasoned, spicy, and acidic food as they may irritate your mouth and throat. Examples of these are curries, chillies, bottled sauces and pickles, flavoured crisps, acid drops and bitter lemon sweets.
- Avoid hard foods as they will cause discomfort for both chewing and swallowing. Examples of these are toast, crackers, raw fibrous vegetables such as celery, radishes, carrots and pickled onions.
- Make sure you follow any instructions you are given about caring for your mouth.
- It is very important to drink enough fluid to keep the lining of your mouth and throat as moist as possible. Aim to have 8 cups or glasses each day.
- You may need to change the texture of your food to make swallowing easier. Food can be mashed, minced or liquidised to make it easier to swallow.
- Use gravy, sauces, milk or cream to moisten your food.
- You may need nutritional supplements. The dietitian can advise you about this.
- Medication is available to ease swallowing difficulties and pain. The doctor can advise you about this.
- Smoking may make your soreness and swallowing difficulty worse. You will have been advised not to smoke throughout your treatment.
- Ice-cream can be soothing – but do not eat straight from the freezer. Allow it to rest for ten minutes at room temperature.
If you lose weight or the soreness and difficulty swallowing gets worse, speak to your radiographer who can refer you to the dietitian.
Meal and drink suggestions
Enriched milk - Add 2 - 4 tablespoons of skimmed milk powder to one pint of full fat milk and whisk well.
Make the following drinks with enriched milk:
- Milky coffee
- Drinking chocolate
- Build up milkshakes
- Ready Brek, Weetabix or instant hot oat cereal well mashed with enriched milk and sugar
- Thick creamy yoghurt with enriched milk
- Bread soaked in warmed enriched milk and sugar
- Mild cheese and potato pie with minced cooked carrots
- Fish in parsley sauce with creamed potato and mushy peas
- Finely chopped ham in white sauce with creamed potato and well cooked mashed swede
- Casserole with mashed potato
- Pasta with sauce
- Macaroni cheese
- Corned beef hash
- Cauliflower cheese
- Savoury egg custard
- Jacket potato mashed with sardines and butter (with no skin on the potato)
- Milk jelly using enriched milk
- Custard with well stewed fruit or mashed banana
- Rice, sago, semolina or tapioca made with enriched milk
- Egg custard (make sure the egg is thoroughly cooked)
If you would like further information please contact the dietitians on:
Phone: 029 2061 5888 ext 2214
This leaflet was written by the dietitians at Velindre Cancer Centre. It has been approved by health professionals and patients. It is reviewed and updated annually.
Prepared February 2010
Reviewed November 2019