A Pot Pourri of Food Ideas from Esophageal Patients

The following is a loose compilation of various recipies and recommendations from the EC-Group over the past several years. Comments are in [red brackets] where we felt compelled to add something that may be worthwhile. Otherwise, these items are pretty much as received. Everyone is different, and some food that works for someone may not be the best for you. I recommend that you keep a Food Diary so you can help to understand what works and what causes discomfort.

Some from the USA and some from the UK. Many foods are the same and it is usually easy to substitute similar items found locally.

We will be pleased to hear of any other ideas and problem solvers you have discovered.


General Hints

From Ike:

Cream of Wheat

Hope you included one of the most complex, ultra gormet, epicurian dishes know as Cream of Wheat. Including the home front I am aware of several who could tolerate Cream of Wheat immediately after surgery and anytime after----a lump of butter and/or a little grated cheese makes for excellent variations. Another one that is very easy but very good, and very tolerable in reasonable quantities as it tends to be on the rich side, two cups whole milk, 3/4 cup grated parmesan sired in before heating almost to a boil, basil to taste and toss with cooked rigatoni or any good pasta.

[Remember that you may be lactose intolerant, and have to be wary of any dairy produce except yoghurt.]

From Marny

Every morning for almost a year, he made himself the same breakfast -- a Carnation Instant Breakfast (vanilla or strawberry ONLY) with whole milk and regular ice cream (strawberry or vanilla with a bit of raspberry syrup). Sometimes 1/4 of a banana. BLEND. Yield: 1 large glass. (he had a time when he was lactose-intolerant so he took Lactaid)

2 hours later, he would have some canned peaches ... 4 slices or so. Juice in-between NOT during meals.

2 hours later, I'd make him 1 scrambled egg. A little bit of pot roast (very soft) and a small piece of potato and carrot that had been cooked with the pot roast... Oh, I'd have some, too. (just more)Sometimes, he would have only a couple of small slices of pot roast. A 1/2 hour later, a piece of potato. A little while later, a piece of carrot

... A little while later, a snack -- more peaches with a bit of raspberry juice, sometimes a squirt of whipped creme. (NOTHING low calorie) If Dale was going to bed at 9 p.m. he ate NOTHING after 7 p.m. and nothing to drink after 8 p.m. Thanksgiving was a full day of grazing ... and it worked well for us. It sure made it easy on me!!! Nothing had to be done all at once!

When the yams were done, we ate some. When the peas were done, we ate some. When the turkey was done, we ate some. A little while later, we picked on something else ... you get the picture!!! Dale ALWAYS carried snacks and juice in a thermos bag ... sort of a shoulder purse ... he could then eat whenever HE needed to eat ... and not because all the other people were having lunch at noon.

See Also (Sardines)


Ellen's ideas

Before I had surgery and was getting most of my nourishment thru my PEG, I found a few things than I could swallow without too much trouble. One thing was frozen yogurt with an oatmeal cookie or two crumbled in it. I found that smooth foods, by themselves, would stick in my throat, and that by adding something a with a little texture would help carry them down. I would throw some coke, orange soda, or root beer in the blender with some vanilla ice cream and just give it a quick "zap" and this makes a very refreshing drink with lots of calories. When I did start eating real food again, I found that following a bite of meat or even mashed potatoes with a bite of broccoli would make it travel down my throat easily. I know that many people don't like broccoli but with a little lemon juice on it , it becomes more palatable. Oatmeal was a life saver for me and I still enjoy it from time to time. I like it best with cinnamon and sugar!

From Mary

Has anyone suggested mashed potatoes and say applesauce? There are many different flavors out there of applesauce. I had a few patients that all they could eat was a baked potato(soft) and butter, garlic and applesauce. I thought it was real gross, but these patients really liked it while going through chemo. Do not know the calorie count. My mother was also cooking carrots for my dad. When they were all done cooking, she would put butter and maple syrup (just a touch) to add flavor. Carrots are soft. I tasted them and really like them. How much soy recipes do you have. Soy is supposed to be a good source of protein. It is also easy to mix with anything. It takes on the flavor of whatever is being cooked. I do not know what else you need. I have lots of soft food type stuff, but I do not know specifics.

My dad's diet consists of oatmeal (with whole milk, oatbran and extra milk powder) and yougurt for breakfast, and he as this every morning except Sunday. Lunch is usually half a sadwhich and soup and for dinner he eats whatever my mom cooks for him. He has scandishake between meals and occasional jevity at night-one can. He also likes to snack on popcorn-don't know how he does it because he has problems with dry mouth and meals don't always go down well, and he loves those cheese puff things. He enjoys ramen noodles (someone else mentioned this) with tiny vegetables and meat. He also like or tries to eat foods with gravy. .....Mary

Gwen's ideas

This is a selection of ideas that I have used/use:- Mix 'Build Up' powder (or USA equivalent) with Instant Whip or Angel Delight ( again I am sure there are USA versions- whip up cold with milk and leave to set) for a more nourishing dessert.

Mashed banana is easy to swallow and keeps you going for ages. I still often carry bananas around for a quick non messy snack.(Don't need to mash them now of course!)

Muesli breakfast bars are also easy to carry in pocket or handbag and not messy to eat. Some of them are a little too sugary though. Other quick snack ideas, especially if you are not always at home are:- sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apricots or other dried fruit, nuts (bearing in mind the recent postings about peanuts!).

At home, cottage cheese is easy to eat, as is yoghurt. The really thick Greek yoghurt is great if you don't fancy yoghurt - it has a different texture, tastes creamy and I like it with runny honey drizzled over.

[Remember that you may be lactose intolerant, and have to be wary of any dairy produce except yoghurt.]

I found quite early on that I could eat Cream Crackers (If you don't have these in USA try fatless crackers -look at list of ingredients.) I also found I could cope with breadsticks (the small biscuit like fingers) and these are great used as dips for cottage cheese or cream cheese, if your system can take these.

Before chemo (and before the tumour grew so rapidly) I could still eat beef and these are some of the beef things I ate:

Beef stew (Home made by well-trained husband!) with some instant mashed potato made up with a lot of butter.

Minced Beef with onion (not tinned- freshly cooked in pressure cooker), mashed potato with evap milk and butter, tinned sweetcorn and tinned green beans.

Tin minced beef + onion+ jar of Chinese szechuan sauce heated together.

Campbells Bolognaise-beef in bolognaise sauce, instant mash

I couldn't manage to cook after surgery because cooking smells made me feel nauseated. Therefore most things were easily prepared. After surgery I had to cut out milk for a few months as it caused dumping. I also found that I still could not eat beef or sausages. I still don't. Sometimes I could eat more than others but mostly I ate a succession of snacks throughout the day such as:-

Note that in some cases I substituted water for milk at first because of the lactose intolerance. Soya milk can taste funny, but when mixed with other ingredients this is not noticeable and it is very nutritious.

I hope these ideas might help someone. I now cook and eat much more variety and, in fact, I eat pretty much normally. (My surgery was in 1995.)

Fish with Cheese Sauce, Toast and Cooking Recommendations (Janet)

I can eat ground meat, but do so rarely. Fish, like flounder is great - make it with a cheese sauce or just topped with cheese for extra nutrients and flavor.

As for bread, my most favorite food, I now use only Pepperidge Farm Very, Thin Bread and I toast it. Toasted it is not as crisp as melba toast, it makes an ok grilled cheese sandwich and with butter, jam, etc. on it it makes a good substitute for "real" (thick) bread. Do not over-toast it. Be sure to use the VERY Thin bread, not just the thin.

I am cooking for one and I seldom know ahead of time if I even want to eat. That makes it hard when most of what is on hand is frozen and takes time to defrost. There was a product available several years ago, a metal tray, where you would put your frozen piece of meat, or whatever, and the metal would absorb the cold and defrost the food in a minimum time. I now use my Geo. Forman Grill to do the same thing. I do not plug it in, but have piece of fish, meat, etc. loosely wrapped in plastic or in a plastic sealed bag and put it between the top and bottom of the grill, that way it defrosts from both sides at once. It rarely takes more than 1/2 hour and then I am able to saute, fry, broil, or grill in the proper pan, as the mood dictates. And I can decide at the last (almost) moment.

Cautions and Suggestions (Holmes)

My husband still gets very ill if he drinks milk, eats too much at a time, eats gooey rich treats, or is too active after eating. He has learned to nibble all day long. I send bananas, apples, trail mix, cheese and crackers, Ensure bars, and ginger snaps from the health food store. Along with his breakfast, (cantelope,grapes,bananas, and Fiber One Cereal sprinkled on top), he = eats lunch out and dinner in. He eats steak, chicken, fish, pork, ham, etc. with potatoes and a vegetable. He is always careful to not drink with his meals. This is the biggest problem as I don't think he gets enough fluids. Because he is nibbling all the time it is hard to find enough time to drink. Oh well, these are things that each one works out on his own.

SOS? (Peggy)

SOS [creamed chipped beef on toast] was one of the first things he requested when he finally began eating again a few weeks ago. It's always been a favorite, even when he was in the Army a lot of years ago. Spaghetti came second and he had 3 helpings the first night. This after not being able to eat or drink anything for 7 months. I was (and still am) amazed! He also agrees with you that "Spaghetti ain't bad at 2:00 a.m." And yes, sardines are great any old time. He added that he'll leave all the chicken livers for you and the family dog though. He suggests sucking on a Li Hing Mui and a small serving of thin-sliced Spam instead. He loved your post. Who knows, you may hear from him some day at 3:00 a.m. Like you, he's a night owl. He finds it tough to soar with eagles in the morning, however.

Something I have done is become vegetarian except for fish, and pretty much made refried beans my "meat"!

I take a liquid vitamin supplement with minerals and amino acids.about 30.00 for 32 servings of a tasty kiwi-aloe flavor, from GNC.

RF Beans with melted cheddar on top

RF Beans spread on a small whole wheat taco sprinkled with cheddar cheese microwaves til cheese melts, then topped with sliced ripe olives and a little mild salsa, and rolled up, my favorite meal! Eaten at least once a day

Also: Malto meal with soy milk and splenda sweetener, nice pat of Control margarine. Oatmeal with raisins, soy milk, splenda,and butter or Control margarine Poached salmon steaks Egg noodles with sauce and apples, apples apples!



Diana's Comments

After I had my esophagus removed and my stomach pulled up to meet my throat I had very little in the way of guidance as to what or how to eat. I found that eating every hour and a half to two hours really works the best.

I am 8 weeks post op and so I can eat practically anything I want except for sweet things which cause cramps and /or diarrhea. Really hard or chewy things are out like french fries (just as well) or clams and certain meats. I over- cook my vegies especially if they have skins.

Sometimes when I am out shopping or at a restaurant I only want to order a small amount and am told I have to buy an entire plate. Even if I offer to pay for a regular portion and ask for 1/2 cup of spagetti I am told no. I often end up throwing the remainder of the food away. I do carry food with me but once in a while I want to eat at the food court.

I wonder about the possibility of getting some kind of permission/ID card form our doctors. I think it would be a wonderful resourse if people with this surgery and others with conditions where it is nessesary to eat small amounts often could obtain something similar to a handicapped sticker to carry in their wallets to show food service people that we only want a little bit to eat, because of course we might be back in two hours for more.

NOTE: A member in the UK has one of these but won't use it as it makes him feel a freak. Perhaps it would be better if the UK was more clued up about giving out 'doggy bags.'

Lakeland Ltd in the UK sells biscuit boxes just large enough to hold 3 biscuits, but small enough for handbag or pocket. At present (August 2002) these are selling at £1.50 for a pack of 2.


For weight gain and maintenance see Bill's Shake under the Soups and Shakes menu.

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