Dealing With Bitter Taste Changes During Chemotherapy

5 Simple Ways to Mask Bitter Taste Caused By Chemotherapy

man making fruit smoothie
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You have just completed your second round of chemotherapy and realize that everything is tasting bitter. Your doctor encourages you to stay hydrated and eat balanced meals, but you're not sure how you are expected to do so when everything tastes a little like battery acid.

You are not alone. Taste changes can be a common side effect of chemotherapy, especially with certain drugs. About 50% of people undergoing chemotherapy experience some sort of taste change during the course of their treatment.

5 Simple Ways to Mask the Bitter Taste of Foods and Drinks After Chemotherapy

Millions of people undergoing chemotherapy experience bitter taste changes, and as such, a few tried and true ways to make foods and drinks less bitter have come about. You may not be able to completely rid yourself of the bitter taste, but there are lots of ways to lessen it, helping you to comfortably eat and drink. Below are 5 simple ways you can try to mask the bitter taste of foods and drinks caused by chemo treatment:

1. Ice Cold and Fruity

Try drinking ice cold beverages. Adding some fruit slices to your water may also help. Lemon and lime are popular choices for folks who don't like the taste of plain water, but citrus may just add to the bitter taste; it can also irritate mouth sores. Strawberry, peach or watermelon may be better choices. Experiment with different fruits and use what works for you.

2. Marinate It

Use marinades to add flavor to meats. Using fruits, herbs, and spices to marinate meats is a great way to mask the bitter taste in your mouth.

3. Avoid Red Meat and Pork

Some people find that red meat and pork increase the bitter taste. Try cooking with chicken or using strong sauces and marinades to help with flavor.

4. Sweeten Up

Sweeter foods tend to help with bitter tastes. Cold, sweet drinks like fruit smoothies and shakes can be a great way to get in much-needed protein and calories. Shakes can also be prepared with meal nutrition drinks like Ensure or Boost as their base to make up for the missing nutrients in your diet.

5. Avoid Metals

Eat with plastic utensils. Many people find that eating with plastic cutlery helps with the bitter taste. Some even avoid using metallic pots and pans when cooking, as well.

Is There Anything My Doctor Can Do To Prevent The Bitter Taste?

Unfortunately, there is not much your doctor can do to prevent taste changes caused by chemotherapy. Still, it is very important that you let your doctor know about any side effects of treatment you are experiencing—even taste changes.

Side effects involving taste changes can lead to weight loss. When foods taste differently, you can develop an aversion to certain foods or eating altogether, which can cause malnutrition.

Will The Bitter Taste Cause by Chemotherapy Ever Go Away?

Rest assured that most people's sense of taste returns to normal after treatment ends.

For the most part, you can expect the bitter taste to lessen and eventually go away when treatment ends.

For some, it improves very soon after treatment is complete. For others, it may be a few weeks or even months before it disappears.

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