Unfortunately, there’s no specific medication that can help your tastes return to normal following cancer treatment. And there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to finding ways to better manage a metal taste in mouth and cancer.
However, there are a few steps you can take to try and stimulate your taste buds and edge your appetite back slowly. The best thing we can advise is to have a play around and see what works for you. Try listening to your body, and going for the foods that do taste and smell good. It can be frustrating when tastes change or disappear, but it’s good to remember that very often these changes are not permanent. The most important thing is that you keep your nutrition up so you can boost your immunity, and support your body on the road back to wellness.
If you’re currently experiencing a metallic taste, cancer patients have found some of the following tips helpful in stimulating their senses back into action:
• Try to avoid eating 1 - 2 hours before chemotherapy and about 3 hours afterwards. Sometimes the nausea brought on by certain treatments can put you off the foods you ate most recently. By avoiding eating anything directly before or after treatment you can prevent bad associations with foods.
• Try adding different spices and flavours to your food. Some people find that this can kick-start their taste buds into action. (However, avoid sharp tastes if you’re suffering from mouth sores).
• Sucking on citrus fruits which leave a taste in your mouth can sometimes help disguise bad tastes.
• Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Committing to a big plate can feel daunting when your appetite is low.
• Invite a friend over to eat with you. A good conversation can distract you from any negative thoughts you might have around eating.
• A lot of people find that red meat takes on a metallic taste after cancer treatments. Try to switch up red meats for other protein-rich foods such as chicken, eggs or nuts, all of which are less likely to leave a metallic taste in mouth.
• Some people find opting for sweeter tastes can stimulate their taste buds. Try to go for something healthy and nutritious like a coconut flavoured ice cream.
• Steer clear of metal dishes and utensils where possible. Bamboo cutlery, chopsticks or porcelain soup spoons make great alternatives.
• Cold foods are sometimes easier to stomach than hot foods as they normally have less of an aroma.
• Try rinsing your mouth out with a mild solution of baking soda and salt water between meals - or even midway through eating. This can help with mouth sores and also neutralise bad tastes in your mouth.
• Keep a diary of taste changes. This can help your treatment team pinpoint what caused your taste and appetite changes, and also help direct you towards ways to better manage them.
Please note: if you’re experiencing changes to your taste or appetite, always let your doctor know so they can help guide you in making the best food choices.