What foods can I eat that are easy to swallow since my throat is so sore from radiation?

Last Modified: November 20, 2009


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

What foods can I eat that are easy to swallow since my throat is so sore from radiation?


Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Radiation can make your throat sore and impact your ability to swallow. Some foods may be hard to swallow and you may need to focus on softer, mushier foods and beverages to meet your nutrition needs during cancer treatment.

Foods to avoid during this time include:

  • Sharp, jagged foods such as chips, hard pretzels, toasted bread items, popcorn and raw nuts
  • Acidic foods that may burn your throat such as tomatoes, citrus, vinegars, and pineapple and cranberry juices
  • Very hot foods and beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Cured, processed meats such as sausage, pepperoni, and salami which are salty

Foods that you may tolerate include:

  • Softer foods like tuna, egg, or chicken salad, scrambled eggs or omelets, mashed potatoes, canned vegetables (lower sodium varieties), canned fruits, oatmeal, cooked cereals (cream of wheat, farina), pancakes, French toast, yogurt, and ricotta and cottage cheese
  • If you notice increased pain with swallowing you may also try pureeing your foods
  • High calorie drinks such as fruit smoothies, milkshakes, Ovaltine®, commercial eggnog, Carnation Instant Breakfas® and supplement drinks like Ensure® and Boos®
  • Soothe your throat with cooler temperature foods such as ice cream, jello, chilled pudding

Other considerations:

  • Split or crush hard tablets and take with applesauce or cool liquids if pills are large and difficult to swallow.

Your doctor may prescribe medications to numb your throat

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, Lung Cancer: Where are We Now? View the entire transcript.


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