Tips for taste changes

Some treatments for pancreatic cancer can make food taste different. The tips on this page may help you deal with this.

You might find that some treatments like chemotherapy or surgery can make food taste different. You may find these tips helpful.

  • Try to eat what you can, when you can. Try different foods to find some that you like.
  • If there are foods that you no longer enjoy, try them again after a few weeks, as your taste may have returned to normal.
  • If meat tastes bitter or like metal, try marinating it before cooking. For example, leave it to soak for a couple of hours in wine, soy sauce, barbecue sauce or sweet and sour sauce. Or cook it slowly at a low heat.
  • Cold meats may taste better served with pickle or chutney.
  • If you can’t eat meat, other types of protein include fish, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, milk, yoghurt and cheese.
  • Try adding strong seasonings, such as herbs, spices, lemon or lime juice.
  • Cold or warm foods may be easier to eat than hot food.
  • If tea and coffee taste strange, try herbal teas, fruit juices or fizzy drinks instead.
  • Try to drink plenty of fluids and keep your mouth and tongue clean.
  • Use plastic or wooden spoons for cooking and to eat with, rather than metal ones.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse to check for oral thrush. This can cause taste changes and sickness, but it is usually easy to treat.
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''I remember going to the store and just buying one of everything that she loves, just in case she fancied it.’’

Speak to our nurses

You can speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line with any questions you have about coping with treatment side effects, such as taste changes.

Speak to our nurses
A specialist nurse taking a phone call.

Updated March 2023

Review date March 2025