Has your sense of taste changed?

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Many people find that food tastes different during the course of their treatment and illness. If you have had any treatment that affects your sense of smell, this could also affect your sense of taste.
You may find that food tastes very bland, or you may notice a metallic or unpleasant taste in your mouth. These problems are usually temporary. Below are a few hints and tips that may help you cope with taste changes:

● Eat foods that you enjoy and try new foods. Avoid foods that have lost their appeal – but try them again in a few weeks as your sense of taste may have improved.
● Some people find cold foods or foods served at room temperature are more palatable than hot foods, e.g. cold meat, sandwiches, cheese and crackers, milky puddings, yoghurt, fruit.
● Cold meats and cheese may taste better when served with a pickle or chutney.
● Sharp tasting foods can help to reduce unpleasant tastes; try pineapple chunks, and slices of melon or oranges.
● Drinks such as fruit juice, lemonade and ginger ale can be refreshing and leave a pleasant taste in the mouth.
● Try sucking on mints, sour or boiled sweets or chewing gum to keep your mouth fresh.
● Sometimes smells can be off-putting. Try covering your drinks with a lid and using straws.
● If food tastes bland, stronger tasting foods may be better; such as smoked ham, bacon, strongly favoured cheeses and spicy food such as curry.
● Try marinating meat in fruit juice, wine or sweet and sour sauce before cooking.
● Having sauce with your meals such as ketchup, mustard, apple sauce, mayonnaise, mint sauce or cranberry jelly may also help.
● If you are unable to tolerate meat, replace it with alternative protein rich foods such as beans, lentils, eggs, peas, peanut butter and dairy produce such as cheese, milk or yoghurt. Try meat substitutes such as Quorn or soya protein.
● Try enhancing the flavour of food by using seasonings and herbs, e.g. oregano, basil, cumin, rosemary, garlic, soya sauce or Worcester sauce.
● If you have a metallic taste in your mouth, try using plastic cutlery and plates and avoid cooking in metallic containers.
● If you no longer like tea or coffee, try herbal or fruit teas, hot squash, water with squash or cordial, fizzy drinks, fresh fruit juices or milky drinks such as milkshakes, smoothies, hot chocolate, Horlicks or Ovaltine.
● Oral hygiene is very important. Keep your mouth fresh and clean and prevent your tongue from becoming ‘coated’. Speak to your treatment team if this is a problem for you.
● Check your mouth and tongue regularly for ulcers as these may affect your sense of taste. Speak to your doctor or specialist nurse if you have mouth ulcers so they can advise you on medication.