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Masking Bitterness in Food

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: My mother has pancreatic cancer. She says that everything, even water, tastes bitter. She is losing weight. Do you have any suggestions?

Jane, Boston, Massachusetts

A: People going through treatment may face challenges that can impede their ability to eat well and keep their weight up. It can be a frustrating experience for everyone involved.

Taste changes can be different for every patient. These tips may especially be helpful to your mother:

To hide strange or metallic tastes:

  • Rinse your mouth with tea, ginger ale, salted water, or water with baking soda before eating to help clear your taste buds.
  • Chew on lemon drops, mints, or gum to help get rid of bad or off-tastes that linger after eating.
  • Cold dishes that contain meat may taste more appealing than hot meals with this ingredient.

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  • Ask the Nutritionist

    • Do you have questions about making healthy food choices during and after cancer treatment? Our team of nutrition experts can help. Submit your question through our Ask the Nutritionist form.
    • To create a customized plan, please schedule an appointment with a Dana-Farber nutritionist by calling 617-632-3006.
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