Taste Change

Taste Changes can include food tasting different than it did in the past, foods tasting bland, and some people can have a metallic or chemical taste preset in the mouth. This can lead to food aversions, appetite loss, and eventually weight loss. It may also include change in smell.

What causes taste change?

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery to the nose, throat, or mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Mouth infections
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Nerve damage

What should I eat when experiencing taste change?

When having taste change, eat foods with a lot of flavor, strong citrus, sweet side dishes with meat entrees, and cold foods that may be bland.

Add flavors to meals and cooking

  • Herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Marinades

Citrus fruits

  • Oranges
  • Lemons and limes
  • Grapefruit

Sweet sides

  • Applesauce
  • Jelly/jam/preserves
  • Cranberry sauce

Cold or room temperature foods

  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Ice cream

What should I NOT eat when experiencing taste change?

When having taste changes, avoid foods with tastes that bother you, even if they used to be your favorite foods or are what you consider to be "healthy".

Foods with tastes that bother you

  • Red meat
  • Canned soups/vegetables with no salt added or low sodium
  • Foods you do not like
  • Foods with flavors that changed after treatment


What else could I do when experiencing taste change?

  • Eat 3 small meals and snacks a day
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Use mints or lemon drops when metallic taste is strong
  • Eat with plastic utensils
  • Prepare and eat meals with friends and family
  • Try new foods and recipes
  • Many meats may taste better at room/cold temperature than they do at high temperatures
  • Experiment with new foods and flavors. Cook and prepare your own food so that you know what goes into it.

When should I call my healthcare provider about taste changes?

  • If you follow the recommendations and do not feel improvements after 3-4 days
  • If the tastes get worse or more noticeable, making you not want to eat for long periods at a time
  • If you begin to lose weight from not eating