If you have changes in taste

Some people with cancer find that their taste changes, although this is usually temporary. They may no longer enjoy certain foods, find that all foods taste the same, taste very sweet or salty, or notice a metallic taste in their mouth. Occasionally, they can’t taste anything at all.

If your taste changes, here are some tips for making your food more enjoyable:

  • Eat foods that you enjoy and ignore those that don’t appeal to you, but try them again after a few weeks as your sense of taste may change again.
  • Use seasonings, spices and herbs such as pepper, cumin or rosemary to flavour your cooking. However, if your mouth is sore, you may find that some spices and seasonings make it worse.
  • Try marinating meat in fruit juices or wine, or cook it in strong sauces such as curry or sweet and sour.
  • Cold meats may taste better served with pickle or chutney.
  • Sharp-tasting foods like fresh fruit, fruit juices and bitter boiled sweets can be refreshing and leave a pleasant taste in your mouth.
  • If you no longer like tea or coffee, try lemon tea, or perhaps an ice-cold fizzy drink such as lemonade.
  • Some people find that cold foods taste better than hot foods. If your sense of taste or smell has changed, it can sometimes help to serve food at room temperature.
  • Serve fish, chicken and egg dishes with sauces.
  • Use plastic cutlery if you notice a metallic taste in your mouth.

‘I lost my sense of sweet taste completely during my treatment, which was very weird because of the mismatch with how food smelt and how it tasted. It came back a few months later, but the salt taste has taken much longer to sort itself out.’ - Josie