[Skip to Content]

Help for eating with a sore mouth, plus a recipe

glad of yogurt drink


Cancer treatment can harm the fast-growing cells in the lining of your mouth and lips. You may develop little cuts or ulcers in your mouth, or tender gums, which will most likely feel better once treatment ends. Here are some strategies from the National Cancer Institute to help manage this problem:

  • Choose foods that are easy to chew or that you can drink, such as milkshakes, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, creamy peanut butter, mashed potatoes or liquid meal replacements.
  • Cook foods until they are soft and tender.
  • Cut foods into smaller pieces or puree foods using a blender or food processor.
  • Drink with a straw. This can help push the drinks beyond the painful parts of your mouth.
  • Use a very small spoon, like a baby spoon. This will help you take smaller bites, which may be easier to chew.
  • Eat cold or room-temperature food. Your mouth may hurt more if foodis too hot.
  • Suck on ice chips. Ice may help numb and soothe your mouth.
  • Avoid certain foods and drinks that may irritate, including citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and ketchup, salty foods, sharp crunchy foods, raw vegetables and drinks containing alcohol.
  • Do not use items that can hurt or burn, such as mouthwash containing alcohol, toothpicks, cigarettes or other tobacco products.
  • Ask your doctor about medicine for pain. He or she may suggest lozenges or sprays that numb your mouth while eating.
  • Rinse your mouth three or four times a day. Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt with 1 cup warm water. Rinse with plain water after using this mixture.
Canned peach halves in bowl isolated on white background.

Fruit and Cream


1 cup whole milk

1 cup vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

1 cup canned fruit (peaches, apricots, pears) in heavy syrup with juice

Almond or vanilla extract to taste


Blend ingredients in a blender and chill well before serving.

Nutritional Information:

This yields two 1½-cup servings.

Per serving:

If made with ice cream:

  • 302 calories
  • 7 grams of protein

If made with frozen yogurt:

  • 268 calories
  • 9 grams of protein

Source: The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.


cover of summer 2019 Cancer Care magazineThis article appears in the summer 2019 issue of Cancer Care magazine.