Lack of Taste

Ok my mom has just started radiation this week and chemo started last week. Already she said she has thick mucas and no taste. Everything tastes like cardboard and she was struggling to even eat dinner last night. They are hitting her with 66 gray of radiation whatever that means (we didn't even know this until yesterday after she had had 4 treatments already but that's a whole another story) instead of the 54 we were originally told. My question is, since she's already dealing with lack of taste, has anyone found anything that can help her with that? I encouraged big time, to even get her to eat some oatmeal I put strawberries in for flavor to help since her normal breakfast of waffles, a muffin and a bag of dry cereal made her gag. The idea of even toast didn't make her happy.  Did anyone find anything that can help or have any suggestions I can try to help? I can't imagine going through 26 more treatments if treatment 4 has resulted in this already. 


  • phrannie51
    phrannie51 Member Posts: 4,716
    Lack of taste is part of the package....

    of treatment.  Lack of taste and dry mouth are the two side effects that seem to hit every single person who gets radiation to the head and neck.  Cardboard and sheetrock...those are the two flavers of food for a while.  This is where the mental outlook on food has to change for a while.....instead of living to eat, we start eating to live.  It takes nutrition and lots of it to keep the body going during treatment.  Everybody loses weight...many lose a LOT of it, some of us not as much (I only lost 20 lbs...but I started out at was really apparent to me that I needed to eat).

    Supplement with Boost VHC, or other drinks....they aren't something we'd like when our tasters work, but for now, who cares...we're just looking for calories.  Since eating became a job rather than a pleasure, I would just pop the top, and swallow it down....breakfast/lunch/dinner....done.  Took no time, and that chore was over.

    Also....I learned one thing...."blander is better" in the taste department.  Veggies instead of fruit....creamy soups....I could always taste onion, so my sister would make me shrimp salad made with macaroni....I could taste the shrimp, as well as the onion.  Don't try to up the taste of anything...blander tastes come through easier for some reason.


  • debbiejeanne
    debbiejeanne Member Posts: 3,102 Member
    i'm sorry this is starting so

    i'm sorry this is starting so quickly.  tell your mom she will have to be patient.  like P said, its part of the package.  i'll keep you in my t & p's.

    God bless you.


  • lornal
    lornal Member Posts: 428
    chocolate milk

    Chocolate milk tasted best for me for the longest time.  The dietician said that was fine, as long as it was whole milk.

    Lorna 2007 & 2014

  • MarineE5
    MarineE5 Member Posts: 1,029 Member


    What P51 mentioned is spot on, our taste buds are shot after about 4 treatments of Rad's and the 66 Grays are what I had per treatment so taste was basically Cardboard with foods and Aluminum with Liquids.

    As mentioned, oatmeals or anything soft that is easy to swallow was the flavor of the day for me. Room temperature is best when possible as time goes on the mouth sores will pop up. I made myself Milkshakes and added Bananas as I could taste them all through my treatments for some reason. I have one everyday still.

    Also, although calories and nutrition are very important, Hydration is right up there as well. We need to take in at least 64 ozs of fluid daily or more side effects will pop up.

    My Best to You, Your Mom and Everyone Here

  • phrannie51
    phrannie51 Member Posts: 4,716
    MarineE5 and Lorna made me think

    of something else that I did during rads....milk....old fashioned 4% milk.  I could taste that for the longest time....had all those calories, and got hydration, all in one sitting.  I was going through a gallon every two days.  I hadn't drank milk at all for 30+ years before rads, and the only milk I use now is on my cereal...but it sure was good during treatment.

    It's pretty much a given that what we loved to eat before treatment might be kind of "meah...I'll skip it" after treatment, and stuff we didn't like so much before is really good after treatment.  I'm much more of a veggie person now, not for health's sake, but because they taste so good, where fruit (which I used to love) isn't so good anymore (I really REALLY miss oranges).  Trying and testing everything in the kitchen is worth the effort....


    PS....I still eat icecream nearly every day....tho I can only taste the first three bites...I still love the texture.  Someday, I'm going to be able to taste it.....I'm determined!! Tongue Out

  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,721 Member
    smoothie anyone?


    I could not stand the taste or feel of 99% of all foods and chose to live mainly on smoothies, fortified smoothies.  I tried all the suggestions here and had Sunday dinner with my parents every weekend but could not get past the bad  tastes or feel.

    Your mom needs to find whatever it is that helps her consume the calories and nutrition she needs. For most of us, this is just temporary and you do return to the world of eating.

    Don’t forget she needs to drink lots of water and swallow often.

    Good luck,


  • MrsBD
    MrsBD Member Posts: 615 Member
    Lack of Taste

    Acupuncture really helped me. It preserved my sense of taste and salivary glands,  although some food tasted different.  Savory foods and soups tasted best. Cold, spicy, or sweet items still hurt my mouth almost ten months after treatment ended.  Like Phrannie, I used to love ice cream, but now it has absolutely no taste. That's the only taste I lost. Gotta love that freaky radiation! I think the best advice given so far is that your mom is eating to live. It's a chore for a while, but things will get better.