Health Library

Appetite / Taste Changes and Chemotherapy
Treatment for cancer, as well as the cancer itself, can affect your sense of taste or smell. You may find that many foods seem to have less taste. Other foods, especially meat or other high-protein foods, may taste bitter or metallic.
Nutritional Management of Loss of Appetite During Cancer Treatment
Nausea, vomiting, or changes in food’s taste or smell all may contribute to a person's losing his or her appetite. Sometimes, the cancer treatment itself will make you feel like not eating.
Appetite Stimulation
To help stimulate your appetite, eat small meals five to six times a day. Drink juice or milkshakes between meals. Eat in pleasant surroundings in the company of friends or family.
Enteral Feeding
Nutritional supplements are available to provide protein, vitamins, and other nutrients your body needs for energy. If you can’t take these supplements by mouth, special tubes can be placed that allow you to receive the necessary nutrients without eating or drinking.
Parenteral Feeding
If you can’t tolerate food by mouth, or your bowel needs to rest, you may be given nutrition by vein. This special nutrition solution can be given into an implanted port, a tunneled catheter, or any other long-term catheter placed in a large vein.
Taste Changes
To help manage changes in taste, avoid foods and odors you find unpleasant. Brush your teeth before and after meals to keep your mouth clean.
Nutritional Management of Taste Alterations During Cancer Treatment
Try these ideas: Serve food chilled rather than hot. Try tart foods, such as oranges or lemonade, which may have more taste. A tart lemon custard might taste good and will also provide needed protein and calories.