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Changes in Taste and Smell

There is no foolproof way to improve the flavor or smell of food because each person is affected differently by illness and treatments. However, the National Cancer Institute offers the following tips to help make your food taste better:

Tips for Managing Altered Taste and Smell 

  • Choose and prepare foods that look and smell good to you.

  • Do not introduce new tastes when offensive odors are present.

  • Avoid foods that cause an unpleasant taste.
  • Serve foods at room temperature
  • Try tart foods such as oranges or lemonade that may have more taste. A tart lemon custard might taste good and will also provide needed protein and calories. (Do not try this if you have a sore mouth or throat.)
  • If red meat (such as beef) tastes or smells strange, substitute with chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy products, or fish that doesn't have as strong a smell.

Tips on Flavoring 

  • You can help the flavor of meat, chicken, or fish by marinating it in sweet fruit juices, sweet wine, Italian dressing, or sweet-and-sour sauce.

  • Try using small amounts of flavorful seasonings such as basil, oregano, or rosemary.

  • Try using bacon, ham, or onion to add flavor to vegetables.

Tips on Oral Care 

  • Visit your dentist to rule out dental problems that may affect the taste or smell of food.

  • Talk to your dentist about special mouthwashes and good oral care.