Lv 7

What are some foods that people on chemo who have the side-effect of everything tasting metallic can tolerate eating?

My mom has breast cancer and is in chemo. She's lost her sense of hunger, but the good news is she's not nauseous and so has no trouble eating and keeping food down, so she's doing the thing they told her to do where she eats at scheduled times so that she's doesn't fall into not eating and maintains a healthy weight, unhealthy weight loss being quite common for chemo patients and a main thing that reduces its effectiveness as it compromises the immune system and the  body's ability to fight cancer.  

Anyway, her problem is she's having the side-effect that I guess about a third of chemo patients get where near everything they eat tastes like metal. She's taking medicine, but it's not really working, and she's following her doctor's advice by not eating with metal utensils, not eating anything canned, and avoiding foods with a high or low Ph, but the metallic taste is still so strong in almost everything she tries eating that she wretches and can't bear to swallow it, spitting it out. The only things she's found that she can bear to eat is beef ramen and white rice, but neither of those things are at all nutritious, just empty calories, and most especially, neither contain any protein.

If this is such a common problem, I figure there have to be people out there who've been through this and know what foods are tolerable. I'm trying to come up with a list of foods for her to try that are likely to be things she can tolerate. A woman cannot live on rice and Ramen alone. Ideas?


Yeah, she's spoken to a nurse they have that's a dietitian. She's the one who told her not to use metal utensils and avoid canned food and avoid foods that are overly basic or acidic, but she didn't have any recommendations for specific foods, just telling her everyone's different and to try different stuff to find what works for, but I have to believe that since the symptom of acidic taste is the same and since foods themselves don't change, there are some foods that commonly go over well. 

Update 2:

And, yes, she is taking supplements, but that's not the same as getting nutrition through actual food. As for Ensure, she can't get it down. She can get down Atkins chocolate shakes, which have 19 grams of protein, like Ensure. She thinks the fat in Ensure may be what causes the metallic taste to linger because the Atkins shakes have no fat, but I don't know. Anyway, to prevent muscle wasting, they want her taking in at least twice as much protein as normal, so at least 5 times what a shake has.

Update 3:

So she's drinking plain water in the amounts she's been told to, which she just sits down when her timer goes off and forces herself to do it because it tastes so bad. She's drinks one to two Atkins shakes a day, the one always at breakfast, not quite as bad as water for her. She says it's two, but I order the groceries, and by my count, most days it's just one. Beyond that, it's just rice and ramen every three hours, but so little a cup of rice and a packet of ramen last the whole day.

5 Answers

  • Fred G
    Lv 4
    1 month ago

    I find myself liking deserts.. And not liking things that are dry.. I like chocolate chip cookies but the last few times I made them I only ate a few and tossed most out. Things with a lot of tasty sauce or just juicy.. Chinese food, pie with ice cream, just cooked juicy roasted chicken, the cheap frozen fettuccine with chicken.. I make extra sauce with cream garlic butter and garlic bread.. In fact I think I'm going to have some right now.. Wish I had a good answer for you but that's my thing...

  • LAN
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    One of the medications I was on gave me a similar problem.   Anything salty set off an acidic taste in my mouth.   Depends entirely on what particular type of chemo she would be on.   You didn't list the specific cocktail she is one so we can't really give you a specific answer.   All she can do is try different foods one at a time to try to find anything that she can eat.   This isn't a question any of us can answer any better than her own doctor.  They are going to have the most current information to what ever she is on.

    The fact that you hide your posting history makes me doubt you though as only people ashamed of their posting history need to do that.

  • 1 month ago

    I went through similar with my treatment, Spicy foods are generally best as its the only thing you can taste, obviously this depends on if she could generally eat those before.

    Sweet foods to me were the worst, they tasted like ash, I had people bringing cakes or donuts and I would happily have killed them where they stood for peri peri chicken.

    Chemo definitely affect taste (I still have an aversion to sweet things).  From my own experience foods high in protein like meat etc were what I really wanted.

    For the (hopefully short term) chemo if beef ramen is what she can eat then go for it, some vitamin supplements can make it better.

  • 1 month ago

    I found that i needed a flavour to mask the taste. Ones that worked for me were ginger, lemon and capcicum. I ate a lot of stir fries incorporating these flavours to make other foods palatable. I also found lemon and ginger herbal tea was a great way to stay hydrated.

    Add: I also found dairy to be the worst. I normally love dairy foods but they all tasted as if they had gone sour while I was going through chemo.

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  • 1 month ago

    does she feel like anything in particular? all cancer places should have a dietitian on staff to help too. Avocados are good for you also there are drinks like ensure etc than can be frozen.  Beans are also good protein (like black beans etc), can be pretty personal unfortunately but freezing and cooling often make things more palatable.

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