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Cancer Center

Nutrition and Cancer - Nutritional Management of Taste Alterations

Nutritional management of treatment side effects:

There is more to nutrition during cancer and cancer therapy than getting enough calories and protein. The foods you choose also help you cope with side effects, such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chewing and swallowing difficulties, and taste changes.

As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his/her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team any/all possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins.

Nutritional management of taste alterations:

Sometimes, cancer treatment causes temporary changes in the way foods taste. Some foods might taste like tin or taste bland, or have other unpleasant tastes. Taste changes can affect your appetite and desire for food. Use some of the suggestions below to make food taste more desirable:

  • Eat with plastic utensils.
  • Marinate meats with sweet marinades or sauces.
  • Offer salty or unsalted foods.
  • Serve food chilled rather than hot.
  • If foods taste bland, use extra seasonings, spices, and flavorings.
  • Drink lemon-flavored drinks to stimulate saliva and taste.
  • Keep the mouth clean with rinsing and brushing.

Try to avoid the following:

  • red meats
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • tea

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