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Altered Tastes

Altered tastes can be a side effect of some cancer treatments and may be described as foods tasting blander than normal, like cardboard, or metallic.  When foods don’t taste normal, it can discourage people from eating and lead to weight loss.  Here are some helpful hints to help improve the flavor of your foods:

  • Some people find bland foods work well since they generally don’t have much taste anyway.  Foods to try would be: potatoes, pastas, oatmeal, pancakes.
  • If you don’t have mouth sores, consider using an acid to improve the flavor of your foods.  Lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar can all help.  Consider marinating meats in lemon or lime juice, putting lemon juice on pastas, eating vinegar-based pasta salads, using vinaigrettes to top salads or vegetables.
  • Oftentimes people say fresh fruits taste good when nothing else does.  If you find this is true for you, add your favorite fresh fruit to yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, or meats/chicken/fish to improve their flavor.
  • If foods are tasting metallic, try using plastic silverware instead of metal silverware.  
  • Make a homemade mouth rinse of baking soda, salt, and warm water.  Swish and spit several times per day.
  • Suck on sugar-free hard candies like lemonheads, peppermints, or root beer barrels if the bad taste lingers in your mouth throughout the day.  
  • If foods taste too salty, bitter, or sour, try adding a little bit of an artificial sweetener or sugar.  A little sweetness can help improve taste.  
  • If foods taste too sour, a fruit called miracle fruit can change the flavor from being sour to sweet.  These fruits are expensive and difficult to find, though there are tablets of these fruits available from online retailers.  
  • Have three or four small servings of different foods on your plate. Take a few bites of one food, and when you get tired of it, try the next one.  

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