Cooking Tips for Lung Cancer Patients

A bowl of food next to the words 'Cooking Tips for Lung Cancer Patients'

Cancer patients commonly experience nausea, lack of appetite, and pain that can make getting proper nutrition a challenge. For those battling lung cancer, here are some ways to ensure that nutritional needs are met.

Eating Difficulties

Lung cancer patients often receive radiation therapy to their chest, and this can result in problems with the esophagus. This is why these patients often report a difficulty swallowing their food in addition to pain in their throats and discomfort in their mouth. Paired with the potential of developing oral mucositis, and it can be very difficult for patients to receive proper nutrition and an adequate amount of calories.

Timing and Texture

For lung cancer patients, finding foods that are soft and easy to swallow is key. This may mean steaming or mashing vegetables and sticking with foods like oatmeal and applesauce that are both soft and nutritive. Many find that thicker liquids are easier to swallow, so try a smoothie over a glass of milk, for example. Eating several smaller meals throughout the day can also put less strain on lung cancer patients as well as reduce nausea from a full stomach. It is also a good idea for patients to have a high caloric intake before undergoing a round of chemotherapy to prepare for days of nausea and low interest in food following the treatment. Following up with a healthcare professional about any dietary supplements is also key.

Foods to Include or Avoid

Foods that are highly acidic, bitter, or spicy should be avoided to prevent any discomfort for the patient. This includes citrus fruits and even tomato-based foods. Foods that are sharp or rough, like raw vegetables or nuts, can be nutritionally dense but should be blended or cooked before ingesting. Because cancer patients often have a hard time eating high quantities, the best foods to include are calorically and nutritionally dense, such as nut butters, seeds, avocado, and lean meats. In addition to this, the American Lung Association reminds lung cancer patients and caregivers that immune systems are often low in those undergoing cancer treatments. For this reason, be sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, use special care when handling raw meats, fish, poultry, and eggs, and avoid any food that could have been exposed to bacterial contamination, such as salad bars, sushi, or undercooked meat.

Nutrition is a great tool against fighting cancer, and focusing on calorically dense and easy-to-swallow foods is key. At Enlivity, our mission is to help improve the oral and digestive health of patients as they undergo cancer treatments. We provide science-based solutions, including our dietary supplement Healios®. For more information about keeping cancer patients comfortable and healthy, contact us online today.

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