Taste changes during cancer treatment

Certain medicines, chemotherapy, and radiation to the head and neck can alter taste.

Chemotherapy alters how food tastes

Meat may become metallic tasting. All foods may taste salty. Foods may lose all taste. For most people these changes are temporary.

Tips for tasting food during chemotherapy

  • Eat foods that taste normal.
  • Use herbs and spices to improve flavor.
  • Marinate protein foods in fruit juice or wine, or serve with a strong sauce.
  • Add sugar to enhance pleasant tastes and decrease salty, bitter, or acid tastes.
  • Eat cold or room temperature foods to decrease the foods taste and smell.
  • Eat bland foods such as macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, rice or plain chicken.
  • Use plastic eating utensils instead of metal.
  • Try foods not usually eaten to eliminate comparing taste changes.
  • Suck on lemon drops or mint candy.
  • Remember that taste can change from day to day.
  • Eat frozen foods, such as grapes and blueberries.
  • Eat fresh vegetables rather than canned or frozen.
Last reviewed: 
April 2018

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