Can anyone help with eating tips post de-bulking? - My Ovacome

My Ovacome

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Can anyone help with eating tips post de-bulking?

RobM profile image

My Mum had her de-bulking op 1 week ago and I was hoping for some tips on what everyone found easier or better to eat at this stage. My Mum hasn't been eating much over the last few months due to a combination of cancer and 4 chemo cycles (carbo-taxol) so finding things she likes has been a challenge. All suggestions greatly welcomed.

18 Replies

Some of the first things I had were yoghurt, soup, fish/chicken (protein), eggs (protein), rice (carbs). All soft and easy to digest. I must admit though, after my de-baulking and being starved of only a drip for a week, I could have eaten a horse but you have to go carefully at first. I also had a few naughty thorntons chocolates. Now I have dark chocolate only (> 70% coco) - supposed to be better.

Love Lizzie


RobM profile image
RobM in reply to BusyLizzie

Thank you very much. Mums diet is very limited but she will eat soup chicken and eggs so I will stick to these.

Hi Rob,

Im fairly new to this wonderful site and have found it amazingly useful. The only thing i had was Ensure(Its like Complan) its hell whwn you cant eat . I hope Mum gets better soon Sorry if im not much help Healing hugs Lynn XXXXXX

RobM profile image
RobM in reply to

Thank you. Mum was using Complan along with her meals so I will keep her on this.

There are two priorities at this stage in treatment: to support the 'work' the chemo has done in shrinking the tumours, and to support the immune system which is grossly under assault.

A debulking operation is major surgery, and recovery times are dictated by the patient's age and general fitness, a good input of the right foods, and psychological expectation and attitude. She will be taking pain killers and possibly other drugs for a while; and these will affect appetite (and atitude). If she is finding eating a struggle, what she eats will be dictated by what she fancies; but the main points are to get organic foods wherever possible, to find a source of grass-fed organically produced meat (or aviod it), milk, yoghurt, cream and cheese; to avoid sugar and use zylitol or agave nectar for sweetening; and to avoid processed foods, and chemically drinks (fruit juices and mineral water are good). Green tea is excellent without milk, or with soya milk if wanted. It is a good anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory. If she likes spicey food, make veg curry or just veg stir-frys with turmeric and black pepper. As much raw fruit and veg as possible, of course.

I went on the Budwig protocol for the 6 months I was in treatment, and I believe it to be a wonderful platform to help the body establish recovery. It can seem daunting at first, but becomes easy. It is very much about what one feels motivated to do.

Immune system support is also important for anyone under the cosh of operations and chemo; and I will always take Transfer Factor, as I have since the first threat of day surgery (I wasn't going to get hospital acquired infections, if I could avoid it!). Echinacea, raw garlic and shitake mushrooms are all good support too. A good vitamin supplement is a good addition, too.

Very best wishes,


RobM profile image
RobM in reply to

Thank you for your reply. I have tried to get Mum onto an anti-cancer diet but too often get a "don't like that" response and don't want to push it at this point. Also Mum gets "eat anything" messages and was given high calorie drinks from a dietician (because she needed calories) so has latched onto them. I feel proper dietary advice is the one thing missing from the treatment plan.

Dear Rob

I lost over 2 stone by the time I'd had the debulking. I think the advice to eat a 'little of what you fancy' is the best option. I'm really sorry though your mum has been told to each anything - my oncologist said the same but she's not a dietician and I believe when you can only eat small amounts you do need to chose dishes that build up your immune system and strength.

I enjoyed home-made soups and in fact bought a kitchen appliance that helped to make nutritious soups quickly and easily. I found pasta unappealing for a while but did enjoy Ken Hom's recipes for Chinese food as they were light and spicy and surprisingly easy to prepare. If your Mum likes fish and sea food they are easy to digest - but again I needed them to be spiced up a bit at the time to make them appealing.

I would reiterate everything Isadora says. I was told the Budwig diet is very effective but didn't try this. The book Anti-Cancer is a good read and if you pick what you like out of it is makes for a healthy diet. I think it's important to avoid processed food of any sort and buy small amounts of good quality organic and/or free-range meats, veg and diary products.

The final thing I've invested in recently is a good juicer and I have a small glass of fresh fruit and/or vegetable juice every day as it helps to keep up the range of fruit and veg recommended in the Anti-Cancer book - far more than 5 a day!

I do wish your Mum well. I was surprised to be in quite a lot of discomfort after the op at certain times of day but it seemed to mostly at the time when waste matter was passing through the bowel. Sorry for the detail but thought this might help. It only lasted I guess whilst the internal organs were still sore and swollen. The pain disappeared within a few weeks. During these few weeks it helped to have 4 or 5 very small meals a day and take Lactulose which is available from the pharmacy. It's a natural product that helps you 'go' - it seemed to do the trick and relieve the pressure on the bowel and abdomen.

Your Mum's a very lucky lady to have you to help her.

with love xx Annie

RobM profile image
RobM in reply to

Thank you for your reply. I'm trying to keep Mum eating well - she likes fruit (but not veg) and will eat breakfast cereals which helps. I will try to get her on fish today and maybe scrambled eggs. She is good at eating little portions, just not often enough.

She makes great soups but has lost interest in making them. I had brought up the idea of a juicer but it got little favour - Santa may bring her one anyway.


After my op and during chemo I found that I didn't really fancy most foods. I tried to eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg, in small portions. Also if possible, try to get your Mum to drink plenty of water, I was told to drink 2litres(4pints) of water or similar a day, not including tea! ( mind you, I didn't fancy tea....I normal drink it by the bucketload) an uncle told me the fruit and veg were the most important, I was drinking fortisip protein drinks, which covered the daily protein. I was also told to drink an extra fortsip if I wasn't eating properly. My appetite came back soon after finishing chemo, so I'm sure your Mum's will soon.


RobM profile image
RobM in reply to ChrisH

Thank you for your reply. Mum is good on the fruit and and I'm planning to bring in scrambled eggs and fish today.

The dietician also gave her drinks to take along with smaller meals which she can sip throughout the day because of the higher sugar content.

She is drinking more water now and I also have Mum on Redbush tea which is caffeine free and high in antioxidants.

Hi Rob

The advice I was given by the hospital diatitian was to eat exactly what I fancied (what ever that happened to be) when ever I fancied it and in what ever quantity suited me at that moment. She said it was vital to do this in order to rebuild to enable the body to withstand the ravages of chemo and the disease. It's been like being pregnant for three years, I've had fads on foods ranging from scampi, chinese, chocolate, fish, cheese - you name it. But I managed to rebuild my weight and maintain it by doing this through three full courses of chemo. I've found it impossible to eat anything just because it's supposed to be good for me but each time I've been off chemo I've started eating 'normally' although in small'ish quantities. Give Mum time, try and get what ever she fancies (you might end up with a freezer full of unwanted scampi tho !!!!!) Meryl XXXX

RobM profile image
RobM in reply to Meryl

Thank you for your reply. I'm not a dietician or an oncologist but I do plenty of research from trusted sources and want Mum to eat and do the right things to help her get better as quickly as possible.

It's tough trying to promote the right things for Mum but I'm her son and just want to do the best for her.

I now have a lot of good ideas - I just need to try and get her eating a little more often.

You are obviously a very good son. When I was first diagnosed in 1998 i was told to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, chicken and diary. I know that at one point i seemed to be eating on awful lot of brocilli! i have been on chemo for the last two years, and had surgery, and have found that picking at things from my normal diet worked best. I went through several periods of not wanting to eat and my husband would tempted me with tiny portions artistically arranged. When someone has peeled a stasuma and arranged segmenst round a plate and put a stawberry in the middle you really can't refuse to try.

I agree with going with the changing passions - i had a greek yoghurt and honey phase, and for a while couldn't go anywhere without dark chocolate in my bag. I also ate cake. Normally I don't like cake or choclate. I went off tea and coffee (can't stand red bush) but loved hot lemon and honey. I am now addicted to lemon and ginger. I agree about the soups, fruit juice and eggs - but in very small quantities so that you don't feel defeated as soon as you see them. I am not sure about juicers - good idea in theory but yet more complicated washing up every time you use it. But i do know a man who put himself on a carrot diet - juiced endless carrots - and survived his cancer despite the gloomy forecast of the consultants. Whether this was due to all those carrots or his strong constitution - who can say.

After my last surgery i did have to lay off raw vegetables and salads for a while as they caused unpleasant and painful side effects. Annoying, but it only lasted about a month.

i wish your Mum well - hope she recovers her appetite soon, and i will be thinking of you as you try to tempt her appetite back.


RobM profile image
RobM in reply to AngelaAbell

Thank you for your reply. I will try a few different things with Mum including adding ginger and lemon to her diet - I might just discover something that works really well. I also like the idea of creative food presentation and will do more of this.

On some occasions she doesn't like the taste of food whereas on others she just doesn't feel like eating. Mum can almost get put off by looking at food so I try to keep the portions small to encourage her.

Hi Rob,

How did the fish go?

BTW I think you are fantastic.

Love Lizzie


RobM profile image
RobM in reply to BusyLizzie

Thank you very much - the support from everyone on this forum is amazing and really helps at a difficult time. My Mum has always done everything she can for me and I'm just trying to do everything I can to help her.

Re dinner, fish will be put on hold until until the weekend. Mum wanted tomato soup and a ham sandwich which she had along with a tomato and a satsuma (which I peeled and arranged around the outside of her plate). Scrambled eggs are also being lined up on the menu.

BusyLizzie profile image
BusyLizzie in reply to RobM

Excellent. Tomoto and statsuma (2 of her 5 a day), Ham for protein and bread for carbs. Wholemeal rather is better than white if poss and she will eat it. How could she NOT have eaten the satsuma when it was peeled and arranged with such thoughtfulness and love?

We often mention on here how the support from our loved ones is so important, but to help her with her diet and food is so much more than that. I am 45 and still thankfully have my Mum (she is 82), and like you I feel so protective of her. It is me with the cancer though - thankfully my Mum is well - more healthy than me now :-)

Love Lizzie


RobM profile image
RobM in reply to BusyLizzie

Managed to sneak turmeric and black pepper into Mum's scrambled eggs plus she has eaten lots of fruit today.

The challenge is getting Mum to eat the right things when I'm not around all the time - she will generally eat fruit (not veg) but has a sweet tooth so cakes and biscuits feature way too often. Trying to change this is very difficult.

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