meal ideas please!

As the cooking partner of someone with cirrhosis I am finding it harder to make meals that he enjoys. I avoid spicy foods, salt, obviously, and yet he then complains the food is too bland. He also sometimes feels sick/has upset stomach afterwards. He was a hearty meat eater and is still keen on his old tastes, and doesn't like my kind of food (I'm vegetarian). He does eat a lot of fruit! I would be so grateful for any ideas/thoughts/suggestions/recipes even, that have worked for you!Thank you very much.

20 Replies

  • I am having the same problems. My partner is currently in hospital after quite severe vomiting. I also find it difficult to get him to eat . Little & often seems to be the target but that's easier said than done.

  • ginger is good for nausea and vomiting, i use fresh ginger and sometimes i put in some honey. just chop some up and add boiling water its amazing how much it helps with nausea. i drink it as a tea. i hope your partner get well h0b0 its awful when one cant eat. i have gallstones and know what its like. i feel sick a lot.i have other health problems too but this is the big one im dealing with at the moment, thanks to everyone for all the great recipes. they have made me hungry. eating is pleasure that i took for granted until i could not eat. xoxoxo

  • thank you Grace! yes, ginger is a good thing and luckily he likes it. the tea idea is a great one, I'll try it for him. thanks for everyone's replies. all the best xx

  • id like meal ideas too and foods to avoid and what are the good things to eat re the liver.

  • Oh yes. So identify. Try obvious things like herbs, lemon juice to taste but all so bland with no salt. My husband really enjoyed a rollmop herring in light vinegar, with thinly sliced onion plus a couple of crunchy radishes. Just something, anything to get taste buds going again. Sardines on toast with a little lemon juice and cracked pepper. Omelette with some finely copped onion. Or diced cooked potato, onion and a bit of garlic in a Spanish omelette.

    Meat seems off menu, but a little chopped chicken in homemade veggie soup, with pearl barley went down well too Kallo low salt stock cubes are okish as base but lots fresh chopped herbs like parsley and coriander and chives helps too

    Yes fruits popular here too! Have rhubarb and custard to make today. Homemade crumble with no salt but whizzed up ginger nut biscuit sprinkled on top.

    Hope these help a bit.

  • Thank you for this Lynsangster! I had never thought of rollmop herring - I have been trying to get him to eat fish rather than meat. I think he'd enjoy that. And sardines, too.Lots of herbs - I think I'll get some growing again on the windowsill rather than just use a jar from the supermarket! I appreciate your ideas very much.

  • Poached Salmon is a good source of omega 3 oils. How about a salmon pasta bake?

  • Hi I've been in the boat myself n to be honest his taste buds won't be very good so I found something slightly spicey would help as normal food is so bland I used to have tagliatelle quiet often to with tomatoes n cheese , a curry wouldn't harm him just keep your eye on the salt , also complain in between would help if he was able to have them , it's so hard but a must is lots of water so he doesn't get dehydrated,stir frie , spaghetti n add things to it , experiment with different things , my partner just keeped changing things round , it's definitely because of his illness that his taste isn't there , good luck with all x

  • yes you're right, just experiment and change things round! thanks and good luck back xx

  • What about Tuna steak too - think they can be cooked similarly to 'real' steak and open up some oriental flavouring, ginger, sweet chilli etc.

    My hubby eats fairly normally with high protein & carbohydrate meals & regular snacks in between (plus one ensure drink for his supper), dieticians are delighted with his weight and muscle regrowth - and its partly the reason he was deemed too healthy for transplant (in 2013 he was labelled as malnourished at 8 1/2 stone, by June 2015 he had gone up to 11 stone and maintaining at that and regained muscle mass & strength). He avoids too many fruits as citrus upsets his stomach and we were advised against filling up on fruit as the carb & protein were more important in maintaining energy & muscle. Can't advise on 'flavoursome meals' sadly because hubby is a pretty basic, non-adventurous eater and likes bland though he does add pepper to most foods.

    For nibbles (in hospital) he liked a bit of oaty flapjack because hospitals (even in a liver unit) didn't cater for the little and often eating habit so I took stuff in for him.

  • I'm glad your husband is doing well and has gained weight. Good idea about the tuna - and the flapjacks! I think we might try 'little and often' from now on, too. All the best xx

  • Hello, i cook for my husband with the same problem, i Went to a nutricionist that treats chirrosis, i cook a lot of beans, lentillas, and soy, she suggested to use curcuma and a lot of garlic, it gives vegetables a good taste, instead of meat i used soy and prepared it almost like meat without salt but a lot of herbs, its really good, soups with all Kind of vegetables and tofu, and smoothies with soy milk, we also use a little of coconut oil and on top of fruits we put almonds, nuts, coconut, peanut and agave syrup, hope this will help You, ah and gazpacho wich is a soup with fresh tomatoes and bassil, he hates it but it has lot of vitamins so as if he is a child i asked him to close hes eyes and drink it all at once! Best wishes ; )

  • dear Clariur

    many thanks! it sounds as if he will have to accept he has to eat more of the foods I love - beans, lentils - rather than the meat! It really helps that you have had this advice from a nutritionist so I can persuade him! I am so glad I found this site - everyone is so helpful and friendly. I love agave syrup! Also nopales but that's hard to find in the UK!

    Thanks for taking the time to pass on your thoughts xxxx all the best to you both

  • Sorry to hijack the post, but I'm in Spain without any dietetic support. Have been told husband needs 60gm protein a day but that you can't get that amount from veg/legume sources. I notice a lot of people suggesting beans etc. Also told that meat protein is bad for the HE which we have a problem with. Any suggestions anybody, I've been demented trying to cope with it all? He as the appetite of a mouse of course and also doesn't like chicken or nuts. I have found that chilli oil spices up meals for us instead of salt, and also balsamic vinegar in some dishes.

  • does your husband like fish or seafood? that has quite a lot of protein. or cheese? mushrooms perhaps?maybe a light risotto with peppers and mushrooms...I hope you can get some advice from others with more knowledge. how difficult it is to know what to cook! all the best xxx

  • Olives, cardamon, toasted bread crust crumb, toasted/baked seeks/nuts or adding a touch of self raising raising flour are great subs for salt. I put about two table spoons of assorted salt roast nuts in my olive oil. The salt sinks to the bottom but give the impression of salt. I find using pairs of strong ingredients helps to eliminate salt.



    Pork:Bay Leaves/Black Pepper

    Beef:White pepper/Butter


    There are others that I use but I stick firmly to the two flavour idea. So I cook the meats in those flavours. And that made eating the meat much easier. I find since I've been ill, meat doesn't take my fancy at all.

    I make a lot of the ready bought salty foods I used to have at home now. For instance I make my own crisps. My goto ones at the moment are roast chicken. I bake the crisps in the fat I skim off.

    Hope this helps.

    Love, Light & Peace

  • i have NASH Cirrhosis & have lost my previously good appetite. Protein & carbs are obs. the areas to target. I make my own bread so you can minimise the salt(OK I chuck the ingredients in a bread maker & press start)

    Cook lots of risottos with chicken or fish +veggies. My wife makes low salt/fat chicken pie with just a filo pastry top. But I know I am a pain...non salted nuts to graze on. I love curry but it no longer loves me...tomato seems better than korma!

    Fresh fish is great. Have now been put on full fat everything to keep weight on.

    Good luck

  • thanks Dorset123, making bread sounds a good plan as my husband eats a lot of it and it is salty when you look at the ingredients' percentages...he also loved curries and hates that he can no longer enjoy them. I found a lovely vanilla yogurt with lime and mango compote in asda which he loves - very cool and light. glad you can eat nuts...hope you can keep the weight up. all the best xx

  • Hi pip-lit

    I also have cirrhosis (unspecified) with portal hypertension - alcohol and cancer ruled out by blood tests. I've had mri's and an endoscopy. My previous poor appetite was worse after my brain haemorrhage which occurred 15-18 months before cirrhosis diagnosed. I was also tested for Hepatitis and that was was ruled out. I have autoimmune Hypothyroiditis also,the 2nd autoimmune condition I have.

    So to here and now and food! I do eat spicy food, in fact I use all the condiments sparingly, including herbs which add a lot of flavour to food. More importantly if you are cooking with all fresh food, the body needs a little salt, I tend to cook vegetables in lightly salted water and add ground pepper when I serve my meal up, it's not wise to eliminate salt totally, I sprinkle a little on chips on rare occasion I eat them if out.

    I drink milk, use cream and also butter. I cook generally using olive oil if needed. For mashed potato I add the Extra Virgin oil, not butter or milk and found that stopped it tasting bland.

    My day begins with my Levothyroxine tab, I have to wait 30-60 minutes before eating according to pharma instruction leaflet. Then 1st thing I do is eat a ginger biscuit and have a glass of orange juice (Vit C). About 15mins later I'm making my cuppa and eat a cereal breakfast using shop bought acacia honey for sweetener after finished cuppa. Don't forget that Ginger is a spice!

    The whole body needs it's vitamins and minerals though, as well as the good fats, carbohydrate and protein - BUT and its a BIG BUT, remember all these things should be taken in "moderation". The only warning given to me was by my local pharmacist, who on seeing all my blood test results said I should not eat pork. but beef, chicken, eggs, fish all ok. Green vegetables are a good source of antioxidants.

    I'm prescribed a once monthly liquid dose of Vit D3 by my doc, so that and my Levothyroxine are the only prescribed meds I take regularly. I refused to take the variety of other prescribed meds it was causing too much brain fog and other neural complications. (Neuropathy it seems to be called these days!). I soon learn to distinguish between the actual Brain Injury after-effects and those caused by too many medications, which is why I stopped taking the other meds, especially Anti-depressants dr insisted on prescribing. Damage to brain cell neuro-receptors/transmitters is a whole different ball game.

    Taking into account his cirrhosis and other health problems, if any, I would suggest you look at what's NOT good to eat for the liver. That then will leave a raft of healthy and tasty cooking options for you to give your partner - not forgetting herbs and other condiments for added flavour. One of my favourites is chopped or sliced chicken breast with paprika and mushrooms, using a little butter and/or olive oil, then stirring in full cream, to make a nice creamy sauce and serving with wild or basmati rice.

    A steak, with sliced mushroom/onion cooked together, served with jacket potato I microwave, is also tasty with a little salt and freshly ground pepper, bring out the flavours again.

    You notice it's all hob cooking, I currently don't have a grill or oven I can use, so had to get inventive with the gas hob and good quality stoneware pans. Cuts down a lot on electricity bill also! I only cook for one, and you, as a vegetarian could try the sliced or quartered mushrooms with leek and cream, rice to accompany also. I cook sliced leek separately in water before straining and adding to mushrooms.

    The suggestion of using salt, pepper, cream and butter all come from my French hospital dietician's sheet 2 yrs ago, when having first array of tests for liver and blood disorder.

    I've lost my portal hypertension appetite has improved, so I eat and Sleep much better than before, leaving me more compos mentos! I'm it medically qualified, just adjusted to a French way of eating rather than my usual British one!

    I have a sandwich at lunchtime and eat main meal in evening. I drink at various times, orange and Apple juice, tea, water, milk and an occasional small French size glass of rose If out with a friend or a special meal. There are obviously other things I eat, like almonds for protein. Macaroni cheese is tasty, I make my own white sauce for it, adding mustard and butter to the roux sauce with milk and flour, then add grated cheddar or strong French hard cheese. Fresh fruit tells its own story. It might not sound a great food regime but it works for me at present and I don't need to take loads of meds. As you say it's about food being tasty not bland!

  • thank you so much for these ideas and for taking the time to share them here. I am sure I won't be the only person to benefit! this is such a good forum for sharing ideas and experiences. I shall certainly try the chicken with cream and paprika and also mushrooms for him! all the best to you and I hope you continue feeling better!

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