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Cook easy to eat food, that tastes really good.

Image credit — Google images

This one might be a hard nut to crack sometimes, but it’s vital and enables the patient to look forward to eating. Cancer patients often complain of lack of appetite and unwillingness to eat good proportions of meals. Regardless of the type of cancer, its medication’s most common side effect is — nausea. Anyone who has been with a cancer patient knows that keeping a healthy diet is a primary aim to fight the disease. This objective becomes all the more challenging, when the patient experiences difficulty in eating food (mostly cases of oral, oesophagus or lung cancers).

Dad has always enjoyed food, and has been the most enthusiastic with trying new cuisines. Before he was diagnosed with cancer, Dad and I were the most adventurous with trying new food items, adding pickles and spices, and dishing out new varieties of old mutton recipes. Dad’s favourite till date is Mutton Stew. Sadly, the onset of cancer has limited his palette, involving food that is devoid of spices. Although Dad’s not fussy about food, it’s hard to see him eat really bland food, while we eat other dishes.

Difficulty in eating and lack of ingredients, limits the capacity to try out new meals for the cancer patient. However, there are few techniques and recipes that I’ve invented for Dad, to make sure he gets the required nutrients, doesn’t feel over fed and at least gets a different taste with every meal. These are not amazing recipes, and might not appease to all, but they work. Below is a soup recipe, which so far has worked with Dad.


Beetroot — half, diced.

Onion — half, sliced.

Pumpkin — 50 gms. Diced.

Coriander — 3–4 sticks, chopped.

Garlic — one clove.

Porridge — one small bowl.

Salt and pepper.

Olive oil — 2 teaspoons.


Add onions and garlic in the olive oil, and let them saute in a pressure cooker for 8–10 min, until golden. Then add all the veggies, with salt and pepper, and cook on medium heat. Make sure the vegetables soften a little with regular dash of water. Cook for 5–10 minutes. Once the vegetables start softening, add porridge and water, until all vegetables are soaked in it. Place the lid of the pressure cooker, and cook for another 10–15 minutes. After a few whistles, turn it off. Blend the vegetables well, and serve warm.

So far, Dad has enjoyed such varieties in soup, often taking an extra bowl too. Since he loves sweets, Mum usually prepares sweet dishes like — custard, vermicelli, kheer (rice and milk pudding), etc, to savour them at the end of meals. Sometimes, Dad dislikes too much soups, so the recipes change, lentils and chicken is added. Beetroot is replaced with broccoli, carrots and peas.

However, in the end, he takes these meals on his own, finishes them and we still get to eat together at the dining table. In the end, that’s all that matters.

Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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