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Dealing with Taste Changes During Lung Cancer Treatment

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 12 August 2021
Dealing with Taste Changes During Lung Cancer Treatment

Taste alterations and aversions can be a common side effect from certain lung cancer chemotherapy drugs.

When food does not taste the way you expect it to (or it has a bad taste taste), it can affect your appetite and contribute to weight loss.

Luckily, there are tricks you can use to combat taste changes, whether it be lack of taste, metallic taste, or any other type of taste change. In this article, we will review common taste alterations along with some suggested foods to choose to offset those changes.



Avoid using metal silverware when eating. The metal touching your mouth can bring out the metallic flavor from your chemotherapy. Instead, use plastic silverware. This doesn't just apply to silverware. Avoid putting any metal dishware to your mouth, such as cups or mugs; drinking out of

glass or hard plastic is a good alternative.

Use glass or ceramic dishes and cookware when you can instead of metal. While stainless steel pans are some of the best for cooking, the metal taste can rub off on the food that you are cooking. Since your mouth is extra sensitive during treatment, you are more likely to taste it as

opposed to when you were not undergoing treatment.

Adding a sweet flavor to your foods may offset the metallic taste as well. Pure maple syrup, honey, jam, or fruit sauces are a few examples of how to naturally sweeten your food.


Choose salty or non-sweet snacks, such as peanut butter crackers, vegetables with hummus, or a handful of nuts.


Jazz up your water with lemon, lime, and orange slices or drink diluted 100% juice to prevent dehydration.

Make note of the foods that are causing your bitter taste and choose an alternative. If chicken seems to have an "off" flavor, eat fish, lean beef, or vegetarian-based dishes until your taste has returned to normal.


When food has no flavor, adding sauces, dressings, and condiments onto your foods can boost the flavor. 

Add spicy foods if you do not have mouth sores. 

Suck on lemon drops  before your meals. This trick may perk up the flavor you get from your foods.

Add a healthy fat to your meals to enhance the flavor. Avocado, nuts, olives, and olive oil are good examples of foods you can add onto many different types of meals to boost the flavor.

General Recommendations:

Stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, you are more likely to get taste changes. Aim to drink at least 8 cups daily (or more) if you have been experiencing taste aversions.

Practice good dental hygiene and visit your dentist if you are experiencing any problems.

The good news is that there are helpful strategies to manage taste changes during lung cancer treatment.  If the above suggestions do not help for you or your loved one, be sure to follow up with your healthcare team and registered dietitian for further guidance and support.

Looking for instant and personalized nutrition advice? Ask us!

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsResourcesCancerLung cancer


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia