Dry Mouth, Trouble Swallowing


sword swallowimage credit: Good Search

By having a healthy diet during cancer treatment, you can help avoid getting sick, or getting infections. By staying healthy, your treatments can come to closure without interruption.

If you have dry mouth, especially if you’re having trouble swallowing, you’ll need to temporarily modify your diet to make foods easier to eat. Eat soft, moist foods such as Cream of Rice, or Cream of Wheat rather than toast or dry cereal. Eggs or soup will be easy on the mouth, but make sure they’re not hot. Your mouth will be extra-sensitive. Smoothies (add yogurt, milk, or ice cream for protein and calcium.) Canned fruits and vegetables may be easier on the mouth than most fresh fruits or vegetables. Canned peaches were my favorite at this stage.

You’ll notice dry, crumbly foods like crackers, pop corn drop off your desire-list. If you do have dry foods, moisten them with a dip or sauce, but ones that aren’t spicy.

During this stage, you may also find foods like rice, or couscous are difficult to eat, and may induce gagging, coughing, even choking. The pieces are too small for now. It’s a great excuse to have some mashed potatoes instead!

Spices and salt may irritate your mouth. During this stage, I gave up yogurt. It stung when I ate it, so I switched to apple sauce.

If you need to, blend your food to make it easier to swallow. I even ate baby food, and Jr. baby food for a few weeks. For me, living alone and low on energy, a jar to snack on during the day was easier than blending something, and cleaning it up.

Chew sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol. Doing this between meals will help keep your mouth moist, and the xylitol found in sugar-free gum and candy can even help stimulate saliva production (which is what is missing when you have dry-mouth).

Dip cookies in your drink to soften them, and have treats like pudding, or ice cream rather than cakes.

Try a meal or snack of Boost, Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast type drinks. Have someone look around and read the labels for you. Name brands can be twice the price for the same product, or in some cases have more sugar—all other things being equal.

Keep your medical team informed with your situation—ease and difficulty of eating, swallowing, and let them know what you are and aren’t able to currently eat.

 

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