Head and neck cancer

A place for people affected by head and neck cancers, including oral, throat , larynx (voice box), salivary glands, middle ear, and sinus and nasopharyngeal cancer. Support one another, ask questions, and share experiences.

Eating meat,fish etc.

shirley53
Posted by

Hi I had my last radiation treatment for tonsil cancer 18 months ago, I have dry mouth, and generally doing ok, my question is why can’t I eat meat,fish, it just seems to get stuck in my throat and I start choking, I sort of thought after 18 months I’d be able to.

Shirley.
Penrod
Posted by

It's probably due to you not being able to create a bolus, that's become one of my favourite words since my treatment

I find it a lot easier cutting meat really small and I tend to have mayonnaise with everything now which really helps (plus I really like it and use the struggling to swallow as an excuse to indulge).

if you don't like mayonnaise, any sauce, gravy, etc. helps me, failing that a mouthful of water quite often.

Also, I sometimes just have trouble with my swallowing action, nothing serious but notice it occasionally, I think this is more down to the scarring from operation which makes my neck a bit tight sometimes.

Made it to Christmas, made it to my birthday, had a nice summer, made it to my 2nd Christmas now writing a blog about my treatment - https://www.1in1440.co.uk/april-2018-you-have-cancer/
LindaWT
Posted by

Hi Shirley

I'm on a similar timeline and also have difficulty in swallowing meat.  I also find a few other food items tend to get stuck especially after a few mouthfuls when I start having swallow fatigue.  I'm trying to remember to eat smaller amounts more often plus ensuring there is enough sauce to help things slip down more easily.

Linda

shirley53
Posted by

Hi Linda thank you for your reply, I thought something might have been wrong but as you’ve said your on same timeline maybe I’m just expecting too much.

Shirley.
shirley53
Posted by

Thank you for your reply, I’ll try with extra sauces and the mayonnaise, plus I’ll check out your blog.

Shirley.
RadioactiveRaz
Posted by

Hi Shirley This is Hazel I am 16 month post radiotherapy for tonsil cancer and infind the following helps .

inalways have a herbal drink with food just warm to wash it down .i find lamb easybtomswallow was alway an expensive gal lol. Plus recently rib eye from Aldi 28 day hung cooked 2 mins each side when eating cut small goes down well Fish unless battered cod is easier than haddock I both battered or baked.Salmon easy as well .or combo in a fish pie with plenty if bechemal sauce Shop bought lasagna now fine home made harder.

chicken turkey too dry gammon Sausage ok with ttinned tomatoes and fried egg.

i have a blog detailed below might help

onwards and upwards Hazelmx

Hazel aka RadioactiveRaz 

My blog is www.radioactiveraz,wordpress.com.

i give a honest account of my experiences with tonsil cancer 

Ron51
Posted by

With meat the only way I can eat it is if it's not overcooked, chicken and turkey are ok but you need to just cook them so they are still moist (I have been eating it this way for around 3 years and am still alive) all other meats I have to have pink, mince I cut up smaller or it sticks and you need to get one with a high fat as the low fat is to dry. fish can be hard but I think the oily ones are easier. I am still learning what I can manage just over 4 years from Radio you need to experiment with foods and unlike Hazel I only sip water when I have to when eating as it ruins the food taste I have found and as food is hard to eat it needs to be as tasty as it can be. I also find sweet chilly sauce (Aldi do a good one that's not to hot) good with some foods as it stimulates the few saliva glands I have left. As I said try different things.

Beesuit
Posted by

Yes, why is it that chewing gum gets the saliva flowing beautifully but food fails abysmally! 

Dani
Squamous Cell Carcinoma base of tongue diagnosed September 2018. T2N0M0. 67Gy radiotherapy over six weeks December/January 2018/19
The blog is my personal cancer journey, warts and all. 

shirley53
Posted by

Thank you all for your input on the subject, I shall try them all out, I also wrongly assumed I’d be able to eat normally after 18 months  but obviously not, at least I know that it’s not all in my head and just think I’m going to choke, I hope your all doing well and have a happy and healthy new year.

Shirley.
Alichapp
Posted by

My husband is also 4 years post treatment, and finds he can barely eat meat or fish. For us it is not a huge deal as we always ate a lot of vegetarian food (I have been vegetarian for many years. If he does eat meat, eg when eating out and there is nothing else on the menu which works, then a nice, soft lasagne with lots of sauce, or stews with very small meat pieces and thick sauce are the sorts of things that work best. As has been said, it is all about the bolus! He also finds addition of chilli helpful, to stimulate saliva glands. His throat and swallow have definitely been badly affected by the radiotherapy, and he hasn't really seen too much improvement for the last 2 years although he has learned to manage the limitations better.

shirley53
Posted by

Thank you for your reply, it does help knowing it’s not just me thinking there’s something wrong, it seems I have a long way to go yet. Good luck and best of health to everyone.

Shirley.
Lsmith87
Posted by

I am curious at what point he was able to tolerate sauces again? Lasagne? That seems out of the question ever for me! I am only 4 months out from radiation.  Having trouble finding foods that I can eat.  I saw where mayonnaise was mentioned.  I can’t even tolerate that.  When will this get better? Any hope that it’s going to be soon? 

shirley53
Posted by

Hi it’s very difficult not being able to eat what you like, I’m almost 2 years down the line and still restricted with eating, lasagne and tomato sauces I put a bit of sugar in it takes the bitterness away, fish I find hard but plaice with mashed potatoes is manageable, skinless sausage with onion gravy, and homemade braising steak cooked for hours to make it as soft as possible, hope this helps and hasn’t made you feel any worse,everyone is different and have diff things reactions.

Shirley.
LindaWT
Posted by

I completely understand your frustration and the fact there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind taste or the effects of eating.

I took me months for my taste buds to begin to accept a few flavours.  Most foods were out of the question either because of taste or texture.  And what worked one day didn't the next. 

The first foods other than tinned semolina, custard or Ready Brek I could really tolerate were carrots and pears.  Gradually I found I could introduce a few more vegetables but not potatoes as the texture was just too grainy whichever way I cooked them.  Strangely enough at one point I could eat a jacket potato but even that suddenly became unacceptable due to the texture.

I still can't tolerate anything tomatoey, meaty, salty, acidic.  So mayo, gravy, yogurt etc are all out of the question for me at the moment.   I can eat chocolate only in tiny amounts if I havn't eaten beforehand.  Feta, halloumi and goats cheese are OK in small amounts as is an extremely mild cheese sauce which I have to make myself.  Roasted vegetables are particularly good but most vegetables are now OK.  Pasta and pesto.  A crumpet or toasted teacake with butter.  Some soups.   Poached/boiled eggs and omelette.  Pears, melon, banana are the only fruit other than dried fruit.

I found the best way for me was to be totally flexible.  I try a one or two small amounts of something if it's new to see how it is.  It really has been and still is trial and error.  I'm 18 months down the line from finishing treatment so it really is early days for you still.

To be honest I really can't make head nor tail of why I can manage certain foods and not others.  I do know however that other people much further down the line are still seeing improvements in their taste so I havn't given up hope on that front.  As far as being able to swallow, I am finding small amounts more often works for me.

Good luck.

RadioactiveRaz
Posted by

Hi Linda

i have to agree with you I am also 18 month post treatment, like you potatoes  used to be ok but now have gone off the boil ni pun intended ,but u can eat certain potatoes as chips home made Maris piper.Jacket potatoes in early days  with lots if butter fine now too grainy ! Don’t know about you but sometime see frustration on hubbys and daughters face yes I could eat xyz last week but not today .Its the little things that we can share on forum I think that’s stops us going mad ! Just knowing someone else is like you helps .

I luckily survive on cheese can do a mature cheddar as well plus tomatoes cooked are fine , home made mince dishes not really even if we get butcher to process it again ,but shop bought lasagna I can eat.

Fruit for me is bananas and blueberries anything else too tart I miss my fruit , roast vegetable s deffo good maybe it’s  the Olive oil that helps but leafy veg cabbage kale ni way .Oh the variegation s are endless but at least we can eat which is a bonus compared to some. To all the new ones  in treatment or who have  just finished you will get to our stages some time in the future just hang in there .

sending hugs on this dreary Saturday 

Hazel xx

Hazel aka RadioactiveRaz 

My blog is www.radioactiveraz,wordpress.com.

i give a honest account of my experiences with tonsil cancer