Food aversion

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Food aversion

by augustus on Tue Feb 17, 2015 03:00 PM

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 It has been over 8 weeks since my last radiation for stage 4 tonsil cancer.  I have no throat pain and I am physically able to swallow liquids and solids. I developed a mental issue with food, after being sick several times after eating, during my chemo and radiation treatments. Of course my mouth is dry and my taste buds are damaged. I can drink smoothies with fruit and high protien liquid in them with little issue. They taste ok some days; never good; and like dirty socks on other days.  I do at least 2 of these a day. I use a feeding tube for the remainder of my nutrition. I can also eat small servings of sliced fruit and it has some taste.  I have eaten some solid food; french toast, cream of wheat, scrambled eggs. But not consistently. They taste like dirty socks, and the texture tries to trigger a gag relex. I have not tried eggs or toast in a few weeks now. I watch cooking shows like Diners Drive Ins and dives. They have lots of burgers and comfort food. It looks great and makes me wish I could eat that kind of food again.  But I can not come close to putting food like that in my mouth without getting nauseaus. I was not previously a picky eater and have no food aversions prior to cancer treatment. It seems most people, if physically able, start eating sooner than I am. Their taste buds might now be back, but they seem to be able to eat more solid foods than I am doing. Any advise and will I get back to eating meat and potatoes again? 

RE: Food aversion

by PopPop on Tue Feb 17, 2015 04:04 PM

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Augustus,

I am glad to read that you are out of treatments. At 8 weeks, you may still be at the last part of the "Cooking Stage" yet. Each person recovers from recovery at a different pace.

You actually are doing pretty good if you are able to eat French Toast now. One of my favorite breakfast foods, but it was nearly 3 months before I thought of trying it. I was like you, mostly soft foods and had no taste. Some things I could taste around week 4 or 5, Milk being one of them.

Try your scrambled eggs with sugar free syrup on them, that is what I do still. They go down pretty easy that way. I have no saliva what so ever and I am 10 yrs out now.

You are doing what many of us have done here, watch all the cooking shows while we were going thru treatments. I am not able to eat steak, to chewy and stringy for me. You will find the foods that will work for you. As time passes, things will slowly return.

Measure your improvements in weeks, not days. It is a slow process for us. You are doing good, I know you want to get back to normal as fast as you can. The light at the end of the tunnel is right in front of you and you want to get there now.

My Best to You and Everyone Here

RE: Food aversion

by Sdurnell on Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:26 PM

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Augustus,

I'd say you were doing pretty well so far.  People have different associations with food and different tolerances for terrible tastes and different gag reflexes.  You are somewhere on each continuum, and getting slowly back to where you can tolerate foods.  You will find out what you can and can't do.  I, for example, could never even think of PopPop's solution of syrup on scrambled eggs, although I like both.  The very idea makes me slightly queasy.  You might just not have a very good tolerance for some tastes at present.

As it can take a long time for taste to get back to acceptablel levels, I encourage you to go with what you can stand right now.  See how you can beef up (not literally with beef!) those smoothies.  I used unflavored Greek yogurt, which is high protein and a good source of calcium, plus nuts that I ground up in the blender.  Since you are getting formula through your feeding tube, you don't really need to balance your diet, but it's good to figure out how to get all the different nutrients in a healthy diet with foods you can tolerate, as you are likely to go back to eating before your taste buds are normal.  

Keep going back to foods, because your sense of taste and thus your tolerance of them will change over time.  Eggs, for instance, are a good, easy food to eat, so try them in various ways (watch out for ketchup etc., though, because it can come across as too spicy at first).  

I wouldn't recommend much meat right away, although I did well with liverwurst.  You may have trouble with chewing and swallowing things like that. But potatoes of all kinds, and gravy should be great once you can stand the taste.  Try chicken if beef is not pleasant.  

All the best to you.  And if you've lost too much weight, as I did, try ice cream!  Worked for me (once on the "Ice Cream Diet," though, it's kinda hard to quit!).

Susan

RE: Food aversion

by Terrance on Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:55 PM

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Augustus,

My Oncology dentist suggested brushing my tongue three times a day for 30 days. Brush the old dead taste buds at the back of the tongue. About 30 strokes each time. He said that the results you get will be about the same as if you did nothing for a year. Thirty days after I started this, my taste buds were nearly back to normal, whereas everything other than scrambled eggs just tasted nasty. Now, things are nearly normal again as far as my taste is concerned.

RE: Food aversion

by Andrew56 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 01:04 AM

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I am about 18 months out of treatment. You are doing better than I did if you can taste anything now.I drank Ensure and smoothies by putting the straw as far back in my mouth as I could so it wouldn't get in my mouth too much. I still drink an Ensure in the morning mostly to sooth my throat after sleeping.

It took a few months before I could taste enough different foods to start cutting back on the Ensures. You should try things over and over. I am still finding foods I didn't like are better now. It is a long road but the taste does come back. I still can't taste sweet so that cuts out the junk food. It is almost like learning to eat from scratch. Bread and most pasta are also off my list for now.

The best advice I can give you is be patient. It is a slow process. I had my peg tube pulled three months after treatment was over and struggled to maintain my weight.

Things are better now. The saliva is another issue. Still not much there.

Good luck and all the best.

RE: Food aversion

by cancercathy on Thu Feb 19, 2015 02:03 AM

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On Feb 17, 2015 3:00 PM augustus wrote:

 It has been over 8 weeks since my last radiation for stage 4 tonsil cancer.  I have no throat pain and I am physically able to swallow liquids and solids. I developed a mental issue with food, after being sick several times after eating, during my chemo and radiation treatments. Of course my mouth is dry and my taste buds are damaged. I can drink smoothies with fruit and high protien liquid in them with little issue. They taste ok some days; never good; and like dirty socks on other days.  I do at least 2 of these a day. I use a feeding tube for the remainder of my nutrition. I can also eat small servings of sliced fruit and it has some taste.  I have eaten some solid food; french toast, cream of wheat, scrambled eggs. But not consistently. They taste like dirty socks, and the texture tries to trigger a gag relex. I have not tried eggs or toast in a few weeks now. I watch cooking shows like Diners Drive Ins and dives. They have lots of burgers and comfort food. It looks great and makes me wish I could eat that kind of food again.  But I can not come close to putting food like that in my mouth without getting nauseaus. I was not previously a picky eater and have no food aversions prior to cancer treatment. It seems most people, if physically able, start eating sooner than I am. Their taste buds might now be back, but they seem to be able to eat more solid foods than I am doing. Any advise and will I get back to eating meat and potatoes again? 

You are doing great.  I am 15 mos. After stage 4 tonsil cancer. Still weigh only 90 lbs. Food looses taste after 5 or 6 bites. Still on ensure. Again u r doing greT. Kinda jealous. A little more time and you will Se a important.  Good luck.

RE: Food aversion

by klivestrong48 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 03:30 AM

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On Feb 19, 2015 2:03 AM cancercathy wrote:

On Feb 17, 2015 3:00 PM augustus wrote:

 It has been over 8 weeks since my last radiation for stage 4 tonsil cancer.  I have no throat pain and I am physically able to swallow liquids and solids. I developed a mental issue with food, after being sick several times after eating, during my chemo and radiation treatments. Of course my mouth is dry and my taste buds are damaged. I can drink smoothies with fruit and high protien liquid in them with little issue. They taste ok some days; never good; and like dirty socks on other days.  I do at least 2 of these a day. I use a feeding tube for the remainder of my nutrition. I can also eat small servings of sliced fruit and it has some taste.  I have eaten some solid food; french toast, cream of wheat, scrambled eggs. But not consistently. They taste like dirty socks, and the texture tries to trigger a gag relex. I have not tried eggs or toast in a few weeks now. I watch cooking shows like Diners Drive Ins and dives. They have lots of burgers and comfort food. It looks great and makes me wish I could eat that kind of food again.  But I can not come close to putting food like that in my mouth without getting nauseaus. I was not previously a picky eater and have no food aversions prior to cancer treatment. It seems most people, if physically able, start eating sooner than I am. Their taste buds might now be back, but they seem to be able to eat more solid foods than I am doing. Any advise and will I get back to eating meat and potatoes again? 

You are doing great.  I am 15 mos. After stage 4 tonsil cancer. Still weigh only 90 lbs. Food looses taste after 5 or 6 bites. Still on ensure. Again u r doing greT. Kinda jealous. A little more time and you will Se a important.  Good luck.

Augustus. You r actually doing well. One of my go to meals was eggs over easy mixed with grits also I used to and still do after 10 years add syrup or something sweet tasting to a lot of stuff.

RE: Food aversion

by NYCSUSAN on Thu Feb 19, 2015 04:30 AM

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Just a quick note here - I too had stage 4 tonsil cancer - diagnosed in 2008.  I dragged myself to the acupuncturist soon after my treatment (chemo & radiation) was complete and she managed to get some saliva going for me.  It was important to do it immediately while everything was still healing.  I still have some dry mouth - and some tastes never came back (citrus, grapes, wine, things with acidity) but all in all it sure beats losing the cancer battle.  They practically had to beat me up to get me to eat by mouth (I had become very attached to my buddy, the feeding tube).  I found veggies were good, eggs, fish - the important element was that they all are moist all the way through.  I now eat beef and fish and sauced chicken and turkey.  And, lots of potatoes!  I wish you the best of luck.

Susan

RE: Food aversion

by Hone2013 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 04:38 AM

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Augustus

It's early days at 8 weeks. It's not always easy to be patient, but patience a real key.  Things will progress consistently from here on and you'll eventually arrive at the place you'll level off.  But you're a long way from there at this stage.  I'd encourage you to do the best you can and just hang in there.  It sounds like you're really doing pretty well for the stage you're at.  I wouldn't spend much time worrying about what you're not going to be able to eat due to dry mouth etc. In my case, I'm just thankful for what I *can* do, and I'm not mourning what once was.  Best wishes to you - and congratulations on coming through treatment so well.  No throat pain?  Magnificent!

By the way - there's plenty written about the relation between red meat and cancer. I'm staying away from it. There are plenty of other options.

RE: Food aversion

by ValerieHorner on Fri Feb 20, 2015 07:27 PM

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Hi, I am just finishing up chemo, one more treatment. I had 10 treatments of radiation during the summer. I could eat most foods but had to chew it on the unaffected side. I had to chew my food into a mush before swallowing with a drink close by to help. Eventually it got easier. I find that homemade soups are much easier especially wiith protein. You can also put the soup in a blender befor serving to help with the swallowing process. Hope this helps. Val
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