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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

For Patients & Families
Complications & Side Effects

Taste Effects

Many patients undergoing treatment find that specific foods taste different. This may result from damage to the cells in your mouth that help to detect taste. Taste changes (dysgeusia) may also occur if there is decreased production of saliva in the mouth, causing a dry mouth (xerostomia).


Taste changes are different for every person. Individual taste may change even daily and may last for several weeks. Coping with taste changes can be very challenging. Here are some tips:

  1. Keep trying different foods and you might find a new favourite. Keep a list of foods that taste good to you.
  2. Eat foods that taste good even if it means eating the same foods over and over again. Ask the dietitian for some help to make sure you are getting all the proper nutrients you need.
  3. Try eating foods at cold or at room temperature.
  4. If food/meat tastes metallic, try marinating meat to hide the taste, using plastic utensils instead of metal, using glassware instead of metallic cookware, eating other protein rich foods instead of meat such as milk, canned fish, quiche, cottage cheese, milkshakes, puddings, custard, yogurt, cheese, deviled eggs, and cold sliced meat.
  5. If food tastes too sweet, mix juice/high protein high calorie supplement drinks with water or milk, or add a pinch of salt to decrease the sweetness.
  6. Good mouth care may help with taste changes; rinse your mouth throughout the day especially before and after meals, brush your teeth and tongue with a soft toothbrush.
  7. For dry mouth, try the following foods to help stimulate your own saliva: lemonade, orange juice, cranberry juice, sugar free citrus candies, pickles, and plain yogurt. Avoid these foods if you have a sore mouth or throat.

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