You may not want to eat because you feel sick, or you may simply have lost interest in food. Various treatments and medications can dull or physically change your taste buds, which may take the enjoyment out of eating.

Some people report that chemotherapy, for instance, changes the taste of food. Meanwhile, mouth ulcers, a sore throat or other symptoms and side-effects can make eating uncomfortable. 


Tips

Some people find it easier to drink liquids with a straw when they have mouth sores.

Rinsing or gargling with a solution of saltwater and baking soda (1/2 teaspoon of each in a glass of water) is found to help with mouth sores.

If a dry mouth is a problem, try sucking on cubes of frozen pineapple juice (prepared in ice-cube trays).

Patients who experience taste change often find it helpful to:

  • Use plastic utensils instead of metal.
  • Eat with friends or family to provide a distraction from tastes.
  • Add taste by using strong flavours in foods or marinating foods.
  • Serve food cool or chilled which often feels better on the tongue than hot foods.

What may help

Talk to your Doctor

First, your doctor can check out what may be turning you off food and suggest possible treatments. Even if conditions such as mouth ulcers and sore throats cannot be prevented, they may be eased.

Changes to diet

A dietician may suggest foods that are easier to chew and swallow. Ask your doctor for a referral.

Other suggestions include:

  • Try not to miss meals.
  • Eat small meals often or even just a few mouthfuls of food.
  • Make sure what you eat and drink is nourishing. Fruit juice,milkshakes or liquid supplements can be suitable meal substitutes.
  • Keep snacks handy to eat whenever you can (eg. nuts and dried fruit).

Tips

Strawberry smoothie - 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup high protein milk, few drops vanilla essence, pinch cinnamon. Blend fruit thoroughly. Add all other ingredients to fruit and blend again. Serve chilled. Add sugar if you like a sweeter drink.

High-energy milkshake - 1 cup high-protein milk, 1 scoop ice-cream, any flavouring. Whisk together and serve chilled.

Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.

Last updated 30 August 2015