Diet and altered taste
people find that during chemotherapy their taste changes.
This is particularly prominent in patients receiving platinum based drugs (cisplatin,
carboplatin) but can be present with any chemotherapy agents especially if a
degree of nausea or poor appetite is
present. Fortunately most changes are only temporary, usually improving
4-5 weeks after the last cycle.
You may find that foods that you previously enjoyed now taste unpleasant. Foods such as red meat or coffee taste bitter, some complain of a metallic taste, others find everything tastes the same "like cardboard".
you experience these problems here are some tips to help make your food more
foods that you do like the taste of and avoid those that you don't. Re-try any
'problem' foods after a few weeks as your taste may have returned to normal.
foods taste too sweet - try a selection of savoury foods instead. Using stronger
seasonings may help or try adding lemon juice.
tasting foods e.g. grapefruit, lemon, and drinks such as bitter lemon may help
stimulate your taste buds, increase the flow of saliva and get rid of any
unpleasant taste in your mouth.
tastes bitter or metallic try marinating/soaking it in fruit juice, wine, sauces
e.g. sweet and sour, barbecue before cooking.
cooking in metallic containers and use plastic or wooden utensils.
meats may taste better garnished with pickle or chutney.
tastes unpleasant, don't worry, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, pulses e.g. lentils,
beans can all provide the same nourishment as meat.
people find cold or warm foods easier to manage and more palatable than hot.
taste bland, try adding strong tasting herbs, spices e.g. oregano, rosemary or
sauces e.g. soya, worcester, barbecue.
and coffee taste strange, try milky drinks, fruit juices or fizzy drinks (avoid
drinks containing artificial sweeteners as these sometimes leave a metallic
taste in the mouth).
drink plenty of fluids and keep your mouth and tongue clean. Brush your teeth
mouth is sore, ask your doctor to advise on an appropriate mouthwash/medication
Add horseradish, tomato, beer, mustard, ginger,
Add natural or Greek yoghurt, garlic, orange/lemon
juice, pesto, black bean sauce,
thyme, tarragon, coconut, paprika
Add black pepper, lemon juice,
parsley, dill, coriander, paprika, almonds, coconut
Add cider, ginger, garlic,
rosemary, apple, sage, thyme, pineapple
Add mint, rosemary, basil, redcurrant, apricot
Add onion, pickle, piccalilli, chutney
Add mint, parsley, onion,
Add turmeric, onion, pesto, stock, saffron, caraway seeds
Add parsley, orange, coriander, tarragon, cloves, caraway seeds
Add basil, oregano, marjoram
Add bacon, nutmeg, apple, thyme
Foods in bold type - if you have a sore mouth it may be best to avoid these foods. For information on sore mouths and soft foods, please see advice sheet on diet and sore mouth.
Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.