When Your Taste Changes during Cancer Treatment

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Undergoing cancer treatment means taking on the challenges of the treatment’s side effects. These treatments affect your body cells replicating the fastest. Among these cells are those in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. These cell changes lead to changes in your taste and smell, affecting your appetite and ability to eat or enjoy certain foods. Even foods you adore may become unappealing to you during treatment. You may suffer the confusing changes in your taste, with many foods tasting bland, metallic or bitter.

Dealing with Taste Changes in Cancer Treatment

There are some methods of dealing with your changing taste during cancer treatment.

Baking Soda Pre-Meal Rinse

One such method is to rinse with a baking soda rinse before and after your meals. You simply swish the solution around in your mouth, around teeth and gums, then spitting the solution out. The recipe for a baking soda rinse is:

  • One quart water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • One teaspoon baking sod

Simply refrigerate this solution in a sealed container and use it over the course of several days. You only need to rinse about one to two ounces of this solution before each meal. Remember, you do not swallow this solution.

Other Methods for Dealing with General Cancer Taste Changes

Other methods of dealing with taste changes during cancer treatment include:

  • Use Biotene or another non-alcohol based mouth rinse
  • Substitute chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy, beans or tofu for strange-tasting red meats
  • Eat according to what smells and looks good to you
  • Avoid eating favorite foods on days close to your treatment

When Food Tastes Like Cardboard

Many cancer treatment patients complain of their food tasting like cardboard or lacking taste altogether. When this happens and you do not have mouth sores, season your food differently. Use tart flavors like lemon, vinegar, citrus or pickled foods.

When Food Tastes Metallic

Avoid using metal utensils when preparing or eating your foods. Use plastic utensils and add extra flavor to your foods, unless you have mouth sores. Helpful flavorings include onion, garlic, chili powder, mint, ketchup, mustard, basil, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and barbecue sauce. Also avoid hot foods and eat room temperature meals. Also try using sugar-free lemon drops, gum or mints to help with a metallic taste in your mouth.

When Food Tastes Salty, Bitter, Sour or Too Sweet

Using sugar, maple syrup or honey helps balance food that tastes salty, bitter or sour. To balance sweet tasting foods, add six drops of lime or lemon juice at a time until the food no longer tastes too sweet.

Anytime you suffer side effects, dietary problems or taste changes during cancer treatment, talk openly with your doctor or dietician. Finding the right solutions helps you keep your weight and diet in healthy ranges for your best possible cancer recovery.