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I am having radiotherapy, am very tired and have a dry mouth so am struggling to eat. What foods would be good to eat?

Radiotherapy can cause glands in your mouth to produce less saliva, causing your mouth to become dry. This is sometimes called xerostomia. It is important to look after your mouth during treatment to reduce the risk of developing a sore mouth. This can be achieved by: 

  • Brushing your teeth regularly with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Rinsing your mouth regularly with water or alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Keeping your lips moist with Vaseline, soft paraffin or lip salve
  • Sucking on sugar-free sweets, mints or chewing gum to encourage saliva production
  • Considering the use of artificial saliva. (Ask your doctor, nurse or dietitian for advice.)
  • Avoiding things which can dry your mouth including alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, salty foods and hot spices
  • Sucking on ice cubes and lollies, which can be refreshing
  • Pineapple chunks, yogurt and buttermilk may also help stimulate saliva 

Loss of appetite is very common when you have a dry mouth, which can lead to a lack of energy. Tips that people have found helpful include: 

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, especially nourishing fluids such as milk, milkshakes or supplement drinks as advised by your dietitian
  • Sipping fluids with your meal
  • Opting for soft/blended foods, which are easier to chew and swallow
  • Adding extra sauces or gravy to meals
  • Avoiding coarse or dry foods such as crisps, toast, dry biscuits or museli
  • Choosing high calorie foods and fluids