Surgery or radiotherapy for head and neck cancer can cause changes to how you eat and drink. After treatment, many people find that their ability to eat improves as other side effects get better, such as pain, swelling, feeling sick and tiredness.
If you have eating difficulties, you will usually be supported by a speech and language therapist (SLT). They can teach you exercises and techniques to help you chew and swallow. You may also see a dietitian. They can advise you on how to increase the energy and nutrients in your diet and may give you high-calorie supplements if you have lost weight.
You can read more information about what to eat to increase your weight after cancer treatment in our section on the building-up diet.
It can take a lot of effort and persistence to overcome eating difficulties. If eating has been a struggle for a while, you may no longer associate food with pleasure. Taste changes may reduce your desire for food and affect your appetite.
Talk to your SLT if you feel this way. Some SLTs use different coping techniques, such as mindful eating, to help people regain pleasure in food. It helps you to feel more relaxed around food and to find the things about eating you can still enjoy.