Food may taste unpleasant, bland or odd when you are having treatment for cancer.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and certain medications can affect the way foods and drinks taste, as can cancer itself. Food may taste unpleasant, bland or particularly metallic, sweet or salty. The good news is that taste changes are often temporary.
Having a dry mouth can affect your sense of taste so try to drink plenty of fluids and keep your mouth and tongue clean by brushing regularly – using a soft-bristled toothbrush may be more comfortable. You may also want to see your dentist or oral hygienist to make sure that there aren’t any problems with your teeth or gums.
Serving food with strong-flavoured condiments, such as pickles, mustard, vinegar, salad dressings or lemon juice can help make them more appealing, as could adding more flavour to your cooking by using herbs, spices, seasoning and marinades. You could:
If you also have a sore mouth, it’s probably best to avoid too much spice or spicy foods.
Try sharp, fresh-tasting foods like lemon, and drinks such as bitter lemon. These may help stimulate your taste buds, increase the flow of saliva and get rid of any unpleasant tastes in your mouth.
However, certain citrus fruits, particularly grapefruit, can affect the way some medications work so check with your doctor or pharmacist first.
Experiment with different textures to see if they make things tastier – for example, you might prefer toasted bread and crackers to soft bread and potatoes.
To add extra crunch, try sprinkling seeds or dried onion over savoury dishes, or chopped nuts over desserts. However, avoid doing this if your mouth is very dry or sore.
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