There is nothing worse than trying to eat when feeling sick or if you have been bringing up your food. There are many reasons for nausea and vomiting and any problems should be discussed with your doctor.
There is now a potent range of anti–nausea and anti–sickness medication but an effective dietary option is to take extra protein throughout the day.
Research has shown many people experience less nausea by sipping high–protein (whey) drinks with powdered ginger twice a day.
Nausea is worse on an empty stomach so if you can't manage meals try to keep nibbling small amounts of food or sipping drinks containing sugar. I often suggest keeping a couple of dry water biscuits on the bedside table to nibble before getting out of bed.
Food fixes: Avoid foods that are hot, greasy, fried, spicy, fatty or high in sugar.
Sip lemon–flavoured barley water or suck ice–lollies. Snack on cheese, rice pudding, nuts, olives, ginger biscuits, salt and vinegar crisps, toast and Marmite and drink salty broths or soups, ginger beer and cola.
Losing your sense of taste or experiencing metallic, salty or sour flavours in your mouth is one of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy that is most difficult to manage.
There are no medications available to help restore the taste buds. It is up to you to discover what tastes or flavours you can register. Work out what mixtures of flavours to incorporate into your foods.
If you have completely lost your sense of taste it is important to use lots of colours and different textures and temperatures to help keep food interesting and manageable. Keeping your mouth clean and fresh is a must. Use non–mint flavoured toothpaste.
Low zinc levels can cause taste problems so ask your doctor to have your zinc levels screened. Food fixes: You might prefer strong flavours, such as Asian sauces or Lebanese spices including harissa or preserved lemons.
If meat tastes bitter soak it in wine, soy sauce or fruit juice. Avoid foods with saccharine.
Ease the side effects of cancer treatment with these top tips
This is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The cause is often related to pain–control medications along with the impact of certain drugs. Experiment with building up your fibre intake.
It is important to balance fibre between soluble and insoluble types. The best results come when they are consumed together, for example wholegrain cereal and fruit, wholegrain pitta bread and salad or jacket potato and steamed vegetables.
There are times when the problem cannot be rectified by diet and you will need laxative medications prescribed by your doctor or clinic. If your doctor has suggested you work on your diet to help manage constipation the following should be considered. Food fixes: Choose wholegrain cereals such as Bran Flakes or All–Bran and wholegrain bread, pasta and crackers and brown rice. Increase your intake gradually and only if you can tolerate it.
Eat five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables daily and sip fluids throughout the day. Add two teaspoons of flaxseeds to your diet each day, perhaps left in yogurt overnight or added to muesli.
If you have wind or bloating, limit food such as broccoli, onion, garlic, cabbage, pulses, apples, carbonated drinks and refined wheat products.
LOSS OF APPETITE
Struggling with a poor appetite is a difficult side effect for many having cancer treatment. If you want to build yourself up you have to eat more calories than your body is using. For many this means aiming at 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day.
Typically individuals with no appetite are taking in 800 to 1,400 calories daily. If you have little or no interest in eating it is important to organise a strict diet routine. Nibble or pick your way (every hour or two hours) through lots of regular mini–meals or snacks. Food fixes: Try to eat nourishing snacks such as eggs, smoked salmon, cheese, minced meat, nuts, peanut butter on toast, wholegrain crackers or a bowl of cereal with milk, milkshakes, scones or a piece of cake. Also use high–protein milk rather than regular milk.
Eat puddings and desserts after a break following the main course. If the smell of food affects the appetite, eat cold or tepid dishes.
Keep nutritious snacks including nuts, cereal bars, yogurts, cheese sticks or dried fruit to hand.
Eat in front of the TV or with the radio on. People often tend to eat more when they have a distraction.