Foods during radiation of the neck

A little about the food that one is or is not able to take during radiation therapy of the neck region.

After about a week or 10 days, nausea set in and I began to lose appetite. As radiation affects rapidly dividing cells, the cells in the mouth which are rapidly dividing, are affected. As a result, the taste buds are affected and food begins to lose taste. If chalk has taste, then most food tasted like chalk.

Initially, the ice lollies seemed to feel good. However, as the radiation progressed, they didn’t seem much palatable. Nor did chocolate or anything with chocolate flavour.

As it becomes difficult to swallow, one has to choose fluids or very soft foods. Some foods that tasted better than the others are – fruit juices, fruit shakes like mango shake, banana shake, sapodilla shake, milk with sweet syrups like almond syrup and rose syrup, thandai milk, sweet or savoury lassi (lassi is made by blending yogurt and water with added sugar and optional flavouring of cardamom/saffron for the sweet version and black salt, table salt, roasted cumin and dried mint for the savoury version) and the good old lemonade (without sugar is equally good) (with added dried mint, black salt, rock salt and dried roasted cumin).

Initially, the sour taste didn’t seem to bother, but later, I began to feel uncomfortable consuming slightly sour drinks like mango panna (made by boiling raw mangoes with sugar and blending them with added black salt). Additionally, one has to be careful not to consume spicy food as it irritates the throat and even a little bit of it can be unpleasant.

Soft foods that seem easier to swallow and are palatable  are – idli (rice and pulse steamed pancakes), upma (made with semolina and vegetables), bread toasted with little ghee.

The blander the food, the better it feels.

Soft fruits that taste better than the others are all types of melon, water melon and peach.

Hope this is useful.


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