Cancer: "Food Just Doesn't Taste the Same"
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or the cancer itself may cause this problem. Some people have a bitter or a metallic taste in their mouths. For others, food tastes “like nothing”. Many people say that they do not like red meat anymore. For others their desire for sweets is gone. What you like can change from day to day.
How can I best enjoy my food right now? General Considerations
- Many foods such as meat or poultry taste better if they are served cold or at room temperature instead of hot at this time.
- Eggs often taste good when the taste for meat is lost.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta dishes and milk products are often well tolerated.
- Tart flavorings may be added to foods for more distinctive tastes to help cover the metallic tastes. Try adding orange juice, lemon juice, pickles, vinegar and other seasonings to certain foods.
- Fruit juice popsicles often taste good. Make your own popsicles with your favorite juice flavors.
- Rinse your mouth with fruit juices, wine, tea, ginger ale, club soda or salted water before eating. This will help to clear your taste buds.
- You may sometimes take away the strange taste in your mouth by eating foods which leave their own tastes in your mouth, such as fresh fruits or hard candies.
- Chew lemon drop, mints or gum after eating to get rid of undesirable tastes that linger.
- Try marinating meat or poultry in fruit juices, wines, salad dressings or other sauces for more taste.
- Experiment with spices and herbs. Some people find they like spicier foods at this time.
- Experiment with new foods. Try foods or cuisines that you may not have tried before.
- Go to buffets. You can try small amounts of a variety of food without having to prepare it yourself.
- Check with your dentist to rule out dental problems causing bad taste. Care for your mouth and teeth to prevent dental caries.
Things to Avoid
- Do not force yourself to eat foods that taste bad. Instead, find substitutes for those foods. For example, if meat doesn't taste right, select chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt, tofu or beans.
- If a metallic taste in your mouth persists, avoid using metal dishes and utensils. Try using plastic eating utensils, chopsticks or porcelain Chinese soup spoons.
If you are a UW Health patient and have any further questions or concerns, please call the nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, (608) 263-9128.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/14/2012
Copyright © 06/22/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#478
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