​​​By Daniela Fierini, RD, Clinical Nutrition Practice Leader, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

The holiday season has arrived and this year you are going through cancer treatment. You want to spend time with family and friends but you have no energy for the usual activities. You want to enjoy the traditional foods but you have trouble eating.

Here are some ideas that can help get you through the holidays:

  • Let the host of the dinner party know ahead of time that you have trouble eating.
    • Ask them if they can give you small portions or suggest that you can serve yourself.
    • If you have nausea, bring foods you can eat such as a plain pasta dish or angel food cake.
    • If your mouth is sore, bring a favourite pudding. Put it in a fancy bowl or seasonal mug.
    • If you cannot make it through the whole evening, go for appetizers or join them for dessert.
  • If you usually host a meal, ask a relative or friend if they can host this year. To limit stress, each person who attends the event can bring a food item.
    • Share your thoughts and feelings with your family and friends. They will be happy that you reached out to them.

​​​ Sweet Potato Maple Mash

Recipe idea from "Goes Down Easy: recipes to help you cope with the challenge of eating during cancer treatment." Available from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Patient and Family Library.


  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, about 1-1/2 lbs (750 g)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup 25 mL
  • ¼ cup melted butter or margarine 50 mL
  • ¼ cup milk or high protein milk 50 mL


  1. Scrub potatoes and bake, unpeeled, in preheated 325ºF (160ºC) oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash.
  2. In large bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, maple syrup, butter and milk. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information

Makes 4 servings. Per serving:

  • Calories 272
  • Protein 3g
  • Fat 12g
  • Carbohydrate 40g
  • Fibre 4g

Recipe Tips

  • As an alternative, try mashed squash or rutabaga instead of sweet potatoes.
  • To microwave, pierce in several places with a sharp knife and arrange on paper towel. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stand 10 minutes. Peel potatoes while still warm.
  • To make high protein milk, pour 2 cups (500 mL) of homogenized milk into a bottle or a jar with a lid. Add ½-cup (125 mL) skim milk powder, screw on lid and shake until milk powder dissolves. Refrigerate before using.
  • For a vegetarian option, use soy beverage or silken tofu instead of cow's milk. Use olive oil instead of butter. ​


Last reviewed: 9/28/2023
Last modified: 11/1/2023 6:10 AM
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