Oesophageal Patients Association

Nothing taste good

My husband had his esophagus removed in jan/2014, he had Barret's esophagus with high grade dysplasia he has a lot of trouble eating and has lost 30 lbs...i'm afraid he's gonna lose too much weight, he says nothing taste good and that if he tries to force it he will be sick...he also has RA so he's on lots of meds....has anyone else experienced this cannot eat ??? I'm worried about him

6 Replies

Dear Cobaltgal,

My husband has also had his esophagus removed (due to cancer) in early April 2014. He has had some trouble keeping food down as well, especially foods that have sugar. In the past, he had a great appetite and now he says that he doesn't always feel like eating. He was motivated to get rid of his feeding tube and we kept a simple food diary with calorie counts (approximate) so that he could get his calorie count up to about 1300-1400 a day. Finally, about two weeks ago, he got rid of the tube. I have cooked rich foods for him such as tuna (canned tuna) quiche to keep his calorie and protein count up. He can cut a slice at breakfast or lunch and heat it up in the microwave for himself. I also make other dishes for him but this seems to be his favorite. He cannot eat that much at once and does not seem to want to eat more than 3 meals a day so he just does the best that he can. To drink, he seems to like water with a touch of Gatorade, although sometimes he has trouble keeping it down. Overall, he has lost about 25 to 30 lbs. In the last three weeks he went from 211 to 207 lbs, so his weight is beginning to stabilize. I hope this helps.

All my best to you and your husband,



Hi. Ime nearly 2 yrs post op and still got problems swallowing. They say it is due to narrowing again and scar tissue. Ime actually worse than before the op. Ime going into hospital next month for a rigid stretch. This is the 4/5th time since op. I have a button peg fitted so I can feed when swallowing becomes too much. My appetite and taste has changed completely and its all soooo hard to come to terms with. Hope things improve for ure hubby.


Jan 2014 is still early days - I found no food really unappealing at first, it just takes time.

Try little and often and try to eat high calorie foods, use real butter on toast, buy steaks with a good line of fat on them (you don't have to eat the fat but the meat will absorb some of it when frying) add cream to scrambled eggs, buy some protein powder (he might even be able to get this on prescription from the docs) and add a couple of scoops to homemade cakes and muffins etc even stir neutral flavoured protein powder into bolognese and soup etc, full fat cream cheese on crackers, full fat hummus and breadsticks - just find any way possible to add extra calories in every mouthful he takes. Also I found adding spices to food to almost make it overly flavourful made it more appealing. I now prefer sour, spicy, fruity things as opposed to before the op when I was definitely a chocolatey person. Even give him a square of chocolate or a biscuit every time he has a cup of tea (tea with sugar and full fat milk or even coffee with proper cream)

Nothing is off the menu - if he wants a croissant covered in nutella then he can have it!!

It's horrid trying to force down food when you don't want to eat (believe me I know) but the alternatives (meal replacement shakes or even a feeding tube) are even worse so tell him to try and persevere. Like I said, if you know that every mouthful is laden with calories then even if he manages a couple of mouthfuls in one go it's something.

Keep it up - it does improve I promise - I'll be thinking of you xx

1 like

This phase is really tough. I could eat but some things tasted horrible. Raspberries tasted like mud and hot chocolate was sort of earthy. My advice is to persevere. Try the stuff again at a later point. I found eating hard at first, sometimes felt very sick after eating, sometimes had nasty cramps but I just kept on eating as the weight loss seemed to me to be a worse option. Doctors said they'd recommend food supplements if necessary. Before the operation I used Ensure which is sweet and neutral.


i had my operation at the beginning of April for the same problem although they found early cancer cells in the post op biopsy too. when i came home i started eating as i was advised but really struggled, nothing tasted good and i had to force myself to eat. When i went in for my check up they kept me in as i'd lost too much weight in such a short time, i was also struggling to keep my food down. They basically cleaned me out and started again which helped kick start my gut and my appetite, with the help of anti sickness meds i'm now eating reasonably well although eating food just doesn't seem to hold the same satisfaction as it did.The people on this board are an absolute wealth of knowledge, you will find an answer for most things and certainly someone who has experienced the same problems. hopefully things will improve very soon, take care, Ade


This is a common complaint. The taste buds get wrecked, but do recover, in time, in a mysterious process which nobody really understands. But keep the teeth and mouth clean and well moistened.

It is quite natural for the cook to spend hours trying to make something delicious and then get very frustrated - and worse- when the patient does not appreciate all the effort that is being made to try and get them to 'put on weight'. For a while, they simply do not like eating any more. This will seem hard, but try not to confuse putting on weight with recovery of health and strength. Let him eat what he can manage. You will not be able to force the issue of getting food into his system to gain any kind of target weight. Stay away from sugary and fatty foods (use Slimfast if you like). As long as his body is absorbing a reasonable amount of nutrition he will be OK. There will be a wardrobe problem and he will probably settle down to a new normal weight lower then he was before. If it is any consolation, this is probably the worst part of the recovery process, but others have been through this same period of trial and tribulation and have come out well the other side.

A word about medication. Medicine taken through the mouth may need the dosage changed because his system may not absorb the medication like it did before. You will probably need to consult the doctor about this, but medication can be given in liquid form, or might possible be better if it is absorbed by keeping it under the tongue.

Eating little and often, and 'grazing' on small snacks is something lots of people find very helpful. (Throwing away the bathroom scales can also be helpful - just rely on how well you feel - but that is real subversion!)


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