September 17, 2017
‘Are there any foods I shouldn’t eat when having chemotherapy?’
‘How can I stimulate someone’s appetite?’
Instead, serve a small portion that’s rich in calories, like a ramekin of beef or chicken casserole, a small plate of cheese and biscuits, or pâté and bread. You could serve the bread and cheese with a little bit of olive oil that they can dip the bread into. Or when you’re making soup, add a little cream or crème fraîche or a bit of grated cheese on top.
Another idea is to serve a small, appetising selection of things they used to love eating, while they’re watching television or reading a book. It can be easier to pick them up as little nibbles while distracted, and it’s a good way of getting over that barrier.
‘How should I change my eating habits if I’ve lost a lot of weight?’
Look for foods with a source of fat, which can mean adding some olive oil or butter to vegetables, or enjoying them with a Béchamel or cheesy sauce, as with classic cauliflower cheese. Instead of steaming or grilling fish, lightly fry it in a little butter or olive oil. This might be the time to choose white bread, as it doesn’t fill you up as much as wholegrain so you tend to eat more of it. Or have a treat such as carrot cake, which combines calories from sugar and frosting with the goodness of carrots.
‘Is it safe to have tea and coffee when you have cancer?’
I can’t get going in the morning without a coffee, but I’m often asked whether it’s okay to have a cup when you’re undergoing cancer treatment. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your caffeine fix. The one issue may be that during treatment, some people find their gut becomes very sensitive and coffee or tea, particularly if it’s quite strong, can make it feel more upset. It might be a question of timing your coffee so you have it with food, or maybe having just a couple of cups a day.
When you’re feeling particularly sick something like a traditional ginger or mint tea can be really soothing for the gut. Just be careful about the strength of the mint tea because I find with some of my patients that while a weak mint tea can be soothing, a cup that’s been strongly brewed can aggravate acidity. If you’re feeling a bit wired from steroids, which can often make you struggle to sleep, a camomile or lemon verbena can be very calming.