Difficulty Swallowing During Radiation

Last Modified: January 7, 2013


I have a hard time swallowing food since starting radiation. What would be some good foods for me that are nutritious and easy to eat?


Valaree Williams, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietician at Penn Medicine responds:

Effects from radiation can irritate the esophagus and cause swallowing difficulty. Simple diet modifications can make swallowing easier and allow you to eat enough food to maintain your weight and nutrition status.

Soft, moist foods (such as casseroles, eggs, hot cereals, soups, puddings, yogurts, ground meats with sauces and gravies) will be easy to swallow and cause less irritation. Oral supplements, such as boost, ensure, or Carnation Instant Breakfast, or milkshakes and smoothies can be helpful in meeting your needs. Avoid hard, tough, and difficult to chew foods and spicy or acidic foods which can add to the irritation. A registered dietitian may be available in the radiation center to further assist with nutrition information.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire transcript from the Focus on Lung Cancer Webchat.


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