While undergoing treatment for cancer, your tastes can change for several reasons. The actual biochemistry of your taste buds can change, and you might find the smell of food unappealing, or maybe it’s just not as pleasurable of an experience to eat. If this is happening to you, here are some tips to help improve your sense of taste during cancer treatment:
1. Spice It Up
- Using spices can help improve taste changes
- Spices to try: Cinnamon, salt, dulse flakes, basil, oregano, turmeric and ginger
2. Use Citrus
- This stimulates different taste buds and helps improve saliva production
- Ex: True Lemon, True Lime
3. Take Zinc
- Zinc lozenges or a zinc supplement can help reduce or reverse taste changes
- Do not use this while on chemotherapy or radiation
4. Improve Saliva Quality
- Drink plenty of fluids
- See an acupuncturist
- Use meat tenderizer mixed in water to reduce thick saliva
5. Moisten food with sauces
- Ketchup, BBQ sauce, Mayonnaise
- Healthy Options:
- Veganaise – like mayonnaise but less saturated fat
- Ketchup that contains no high fructose corn syrup, like Annie Naturals
- BBQ sauce that is free of high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and other additives. I like Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce.
6. Add in tart foods
- Anything that causes your mouth to pucker!
- Can help improve saliva flow
- Stimulates different taste buds then most of our foods
- Examples: pomegranete juice, cherry juice, dried cherries or cranberries, cranberry juice
7. Use a protein powder to help supplement protein needs while calorie intake is down.
8. Add in bitter foods
- The bitter taste buds are not as impacted by chemotherapy or radiation.
- Cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage.
9. Use plastic or wood utensils. This can help reduce any metallic taste changes.
10. Try more cold foods
- Chilled soups such as gazpacho
When Food Tastes Bad
- Use a mouth rinse prior to eating
- Swish with salt water
- Look for bacteria in your mouth
- Start a probiotic, swish and swallow
When Foods Taste Too Sweet
- Add lemon, lime, or orange
- Use vinegar based condiments
- Eat pickled foods with meals
- Use spices and mint
When Foods Taste Metallic or Bitter
- Try adding sweeter foods
- Take zinc
- Avoid meats and use plant based proteins
One Bite at A Time by Rebecca Katz
The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz