Doctor Change Your Diet? Why and What Might Be on the Menu

During various stages of the disease and treatment, a mesothelioma patient’s diet may change. At any given time, your doctor may prescribe a clear liquid diet, a full liquid diet, or a soft food diet. Clear liquid diets are typically prescribed before tests, procedures, or surgeries that cannot be performed unless the stomach and intestines are empty. Your doctor may also recommend a clear liquid diet if you are having trouble with your digestive system (diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea) or post-surgery.

A clear liquid diet typically consists of plain water, fruit juices (no pulp), clear fat-free broth, plain gelatin, honey, clear sodas, tea or coffee (no milk or cream), and popsicles. A clear liquid diet keeps you hydrated while also keeping the stomach and intestines clean. This type of diet also limits the stress on your digestive system.

A full liquid diet is like a smorgasbord compared to a clear liquid diet. It offers a greater variety of filling food choices and more calories. Like a clear liquid diet, a full liquid diet may be prescribed before certain medical tests or procedures. It may be required post-surgery as well or it may be prescribed for individuals that may be having a tough time chewing or swallowing. Unlike a clear liquid diet, a full liquid diet can be followed for long periods.

A full liquid diet is easy to digest and according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it provides proteins, fluids, salts, and minerals that you need for energy. The diet supplies 1,350-1,500 calories and at least 45 grams of protein per day. Foods allowed in the diet include plain water, fruit juices (pulp and nectars are permitted), plain ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet, butter, oil, cream, custard, pudding, sugar, honey and syrups, soup broth and strained cream soups, sodas, gelatin, tea or coffee with cream , milk, sugar and/or honey, and liquid supplements such as Boost and Ensure.

In some cases, the following foods may be permitted on a full liquid diet:

Oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, farina or cream of rice
Strained meats, like the ones in baby food
Potatoes pureed in soup

Some of these foods are similar to some of the allowed foods on a soft food diet. Your doctor may prescribe a soft food diet (also “soft diet”) based on a number of factors such as the type of treatment, the size of the tumor, or the position of the cancer. A soft diet consists of a significant number of foods from every food group and it provides all of the vitamins and nutrients needed to stay as healthy and as energized as possible. The catch is, foods must pureed, chopped, ground, and mashes—especially if they are notmoist, naturally.

The list of allowed foods on a soft food diet include:

Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta
Breads, muffins, pancakes, or waffles moistened with syrup, jelly, margarine or butter
Moist dry or cooked cereal
Macaroni, pasta, noodles, or rice
Saltine crackers moistened in soup or other liquid

Fruits and Vegetables
Applesauce or canned fruit without seeds or skin
Cooked fruits or ripe, soft peeled fruits, such as bananas, peaches, or melon
Soft, well-cooked vegetables without seeds or skin

Meat and other Protein Sources
Poached, scrambled, or cooked eggs
Moist, tender meat, fish, or poultry that is ground or chopped into small pieces
Soups with small soft pieces of vegetables and meat
Well-cooked, slightly mashed, moist legumes, such as baked beans

Cheese (in sauces or melted in other dishes), cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese
Milk or milk drinks, milkshakes
Ice cream, sherbet, or frozen yogurt without fruit or nuts
Yogurt (plain or with soft fruits)

Gelatin dessert with soft canned fruit
Pudding or custard
Fruit cobbler with soft breading or crumb mixture (no seeds or nuts), or fruit pie with soft bottom crust only
Soft, moist cake or cookie that has been moistened in milk, coffee, or other liquid

The list of foods that are usually off-limits on a soft food diet include:

Dry bread, toast, crackers, and cereal
Cereal, cake, and breads with coconut, dried fruit, nuts, and other seeds
Corn, potato, and tortilla chips
Breads with tough crusts, such as bagels, French bread, and sourdough bread
Taco shells

Raw, hard vegetables that cannot be mashed easily, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery
Crisp fried vegetables, such as potatoes

Raw, crisp fruits, such as apples and pears
Dried fruit

Dairy, Meats, and Protein Foods
Yogurt or ice cream with coconut, nuts, and granola
Dry meats (beef jerky) and tough meats (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and bratwurst)
Casseroles with large chunks of meat
Peanut butter (creamy and crunchy)