Tips To Help Get Through The Taste Changes That Come With Chemo And Radiation

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During chemotherapy and radiation treatment, many cancer patients experience drastic changes in their ability to taste food. Foods may taste bland, metallic or chemical, or all foods may taste the same. This symptom is more than an issue of enjoyment, since taste problems can lead to weight loss and overall loss of appetite. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to make food appealing again.

Taste changes occur as a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation, and antibiotics, biological therapies and opioid drugs given during cancer treatment can also produce taste changes. Other causes of taste changes include dry mouth, mouth infections and damage to nerves within the mouth.

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To alleviate the taste changes and help make food palatable, make sure to brush your teeth before and after every meal. Your dentist may be able to recommend mouthwashes that help.

Managing nausea can be a big part of maintaining an appetite during cancer treatment. Try ginger to stop nausea. Because smells can cause nausea, run a fan in the kitchen, buy precooked foods when possible, cook outdoors on a grill or eat cold foods that tend to create less aroma. Go for foods that smell good to you.

Eating small meals frequently can help stem the problem, as can avoiding eating for several hours before and after therapy. When foods taste like metal, shift to plastic forks and spoons to minimize the taste.

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Choosing foods carefully or marinating them before cooking and eating can also make a difference. Tart and sweet foods often taste best to cancer patients, so try adding lemon or orange to your marinades and dishes. Add sugar or other sweeteners, even to dishes like veggies, and opt for frozen desserts, smoothies and foods that are naturally sweet, such as carrots.


Anyone facing chemo or radiation for cancer treatment needs a little help to get through it. Check out this chemo survival kit that contains goodies to help with dry mouth, cracking skin and nausea.

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