As we mentioned last week, April is esophageal cancer awareness month, so we’re going to focus on the condition and its treatment on our blog for the rest of the month. Anyone who is going through esophageal cancer treatment or provides care for someone with esophageal cancer knows that eating and ensuring you get healthy nutrition from your diet can be difficult. In today’s blog, we tackle that topic and share some tips for making the eating process easier if you’re dealing with esophageal cancer.
Eating After Esophageal Cancer Surgery
Eating and swallowing can be difficult if you’re dealing with any stage of esophageal cancer. In fact, trouble swallowing is oftentimes one of the first indications of a problem with your esophagus. Those who are being treated with radiation therapy or those who have recently undergone an excision operation may be dealing with decreased swallowing strength or discomfort when trying to swallow foods. However, if you keep some tips in mind, you can make this process a little easier. Here are some tips for eating and maintaining a healthy nutrition intake while you’re dealing with an esophageal cancer diagnosis.
- Soft Foods and Liquids – We’ll start with the obvious. Soft foods and liquids will be the easiest for someone with a swallowing problem to pass. Things like bananas, pasta, soups and broths will all be great options to consider. These will be the most comfortable options, so find some soft foods with a variety of nutrients so that your body gets a range of health vitamins and minerals.
- Easily Manipulated Foods – It’s also worthwhile to consider choosing foods that can be easily manipulated. While a whole apple may be a little cumbersome for someone with swallowing difficulty, you can blend an apple and turn it into applesauce or puree. A number of veggies can also be steamed into much softer varieties that are easier to consume. Blending and steaming healthy options will become common if you’re trying to eat healthy after an esophageal cancer diagnosis.
- Bake, Boil and Grill – Greasy fried foods can cause a few different issues for your esophagus. Unhealthy oils can cause indigestion and acid reflux, while crispy fried foods can create sharp or rough edges that can irritate your esophagus as they are passed. Instead, consider baking, boiling and grilling your foods. These will keep unnecessary oils out of the equation and can help to create softer foods. Vegetables and potatoes both can be baked, boiled or grilled into softer and easier-to-consume options.
- Ditch The Spice – Spices can agitate your esophagus in the same way that greasy foods can. Hot sauce, pepper and other spices with a kick should be avoided while you recover from esophageal cancer treatment. The flavor they may provide isn’t worth the discomfort they can cause on your esophagus, so skip them for now.
- More Small Meals – Finally, most people dealing with an esophageal cancer diagnosis find it easier to eat more small meals throughout the day instead of three bigger meals. Don’t try to conform to conventional norms if it’s uncomfortable, because bigger meals can be harder to pass and digest, and they can lead to problems like gas, bloating and acid reflux. 5-6 small meals and snacks can allow you to get a full day’s nutritional content without putting additional stress on your esophagus.
For more eating tips during your esophageal cancer treatment, or to talk to a specialist about your esophagus discomfort, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.