• Eating through chemotherapy

    Asked by cheygrl on Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Eating through chemotherapy

    Has anyone had difficulty eating after chemotherapy? Nothing tastes good to me and my stomach doesn't want much. I'm having trouble finding anything to eat.

    33 Answers from the Community

    33 answers
    • Debbie's Avatar

      Cheygrl - I had the same issue. Lost about 20 pounds through the "chemo diet". Pretty much survived on fluids and a few food items my stomach could handle that I found through trial and error. I finished treatment late November 2012 and am just now starting to gain a few pounds. Have you tried the liquid supplements like Ensure? Maybe blend it with frozen yogurt or ice cream. Wishing you the best.

      almost 5 years ago
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar

      Not really - I gained 13lbs. Good luck!

      almost 5 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar

      Nothing tasted good to me either. EXCEPT.....FROSTED FLAKES!!! My diet consisted of a small bowl in the morning and a small bowl at night. I received chemo 5 consuctive days before receiving two weeks off to recover. This was over the course of 12 weeks. Frosted Flakes got me through it on the food level.

      almost 5 years ago
    • elissa5's Avatar

      Nothing really tastes good during chemo. I couldn't even drink water, it tasted terrible. I drank a lot of vanilla milkshakes, not healthy but food. Fresh fruit, I ate many apples and strawberries and blueberries.My husband would run out frequently to get Panera's Broccoli and cheddar soup. I haven't had that soup since. Its trial and error to see what you will like, and no 2 days are the same. It would drive my family crazy, Hand in there!

      almost 5 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      I had the same trouble with taste. Almost everything tasted metallic. I are five Krispy Kreme donuts a day (!!!!!) and ended up gaining several pounds, which still cling to me relentlessly. As Alissa5 says, try out various foods until you find something palatable (for me, bland was best, or sweet). I won't go near junky Krispy Kremes ever again!

      almost 5 years ago
    • avonlea02's Avatar

      I understand this. Chemo made food taste just awful for the most part; weird but somewhat tolerable at best. I found a few "go-to" foods that I could usually handle. For me, I could usually eat yogurt and cottage cheese, even on a bad day. Eggs were okay for me, too. Chocolate, which was a basic food group, suddenly tasted - and STILL tastes - very unappealing. I couldn't describe it well (the bad taste of food) - things just taste "nasty"...and "off" enough to be hard to eat. After my first cancer, after the surgery, I lost 50 pounds in about 6 weeks because I had so much trouble eating.

      Strangely enough (and sadly enough), I have gained weight since my chemo ended last August. I keep TRYING to find something (ANYTHING) that tastes good...so I've ended up eating more than I should.

      Now, the ovarian cancer returned, and I'm back on chemo. Food is starting to taste worse, again (it had gotten less awful) but I know I need to eat as healthy as I can.

      Try to find your "go-to" foods; those things that are nutritious and at least aren't "nasty". For me, it did get less awful after chemo, and I'm looking forward to that, again.

      You are in good company - I hear this is common. We are here for support, as we are in this together!

      almost 5 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar

      I know you probably have read all of the suggestions but maybe you will find this interesting.


      almost 5 years ago
    • LynnT's Avatar

      I agree, even water tasted "funny". A suggestion I was given was to eat with plastic forks and spoons to reduce the metalic taste. Many days I survived on a little soup and some ice cream. This food thing does get better after chemo...now have to be careful not to eat too much as I am gaining weight! Guess I'm making up for lost time (or food)!

      almost 5 years ago
    • Queen_Tatiana's Avatar

      In the beginning I tried to go all organic, ubber healthy, but nothing tasted good to him. I finally let go and let him eat what he could eat. If he felt like Burger King, then Burger King it would be. He's lost close to 50 lbs, for a man 6'6, who was not overweight to begin with. I just try to keep some form of calories in him, whether they be good bad or indifferent. Tonight he wanted to go out and wanted lobster, so went and had lobster on a Thursday night. I wish he would eat yogurt and fruit, but he doesn't like it. He loves homemade cookies. He's gotten so thin it's hard to fine 30x38, or even 32x38 jeans and slacks for him to wear. Good luck to you.

      almost 5 years ago
    • CyndiLou's Avatar

      Food was awful for me as well. I could eat pop cycles and every now and then I could tolerate an egg. Also, watermelon and cantaloupe were things I could eat. Then it got to a point where I couldn't even take my pills. Everything came back up. If that happens call the oncologist and they can give u some fluids to help feel better. Taste buds finally became better after about 3-4 weeks off from taxol. Good luck to you. Try to eat a little something everyday. Take stock in pop cycles!!

      almost 5 years ago
    • princess123's Avatar

      I like fruits too. You need to eat protein. try peanut butter on toast or crackers. That will get some protein in you. I have a problem with cravings. Like potato chips. Not a good thing. And I can only eat a little at a time. I try to snack on Greek yogurt and things like that. Greek yogurt has more protein and potassium than regular. Not as good though.
      Good luck finding what works for you. Boost is supposed to work too. It's expensive.

      almost 5 years ago
    • junie1's Avatar

      seems this is common for all of us. I probably went thur several types of food.. was hard to know what i wanted, and then to have to fix food for my family. If i fixed something for them,, it was what i wanted, or it didn't taste good to me.. guess i just ate anything i wanted.. good for me or not,, at least i was eating something, that was over 19 yrs ago..
      As for my daughter,tiaria30,, it was worse for her, she'd go thur lots and lots of food items,, most of the time it was just eat a few bites then leave the rest.. but i didn't care,,at she was eating something..
      So,, just eat what you want, when you want it.
      Good Luck,, God Bless,, june

      almost 5 years ago
    • Samcharlie's Avatar

      I used lemon drop candy to take care of the metal mouth. I ate a Subway foot long turkey sandwich everyday -it was bland with no sauces. I also liked mashed potatoes with nothing on them. My appetite did come back after I finished the chemo. I hope you find something that appeals to your taste buds and good luck.

      almost 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      This is a common problem, I had it too during all three of my dx's. Strange to me was that I found different things that I liked or could eat during each of the three. Mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolate pudding, and milk with chocolate syrup. Milkshakes too, I survived on those, but still lost a lot of weight. Hope you find something that you like.
      Here is a link to our blog, scroll down through the posts and you will find a blog post on this subject with lots of suggestions for combating the "metal taste" in your mouth. www.whatnext.com/blog

      almost 5 years ago
    • suz55's Avatar

      On the days when my sense of taste was really off, I found comfort foods like potatoes or chicken and noodles seemed appealing. My sister gave me some weight watcher smoothies packages that I mixed with ice cream, and those were soothing and had extra nutrients. Peanut butter on toast. Fresh or canned fruit. I kept a journal so I could keep track of when the taste improved after each treatment. Then I just knew that for AC I had a few days just before the next treatment, and on Taxol I lost my sense of taste for about 3 days each week. Good luck. Hope you find your comfort foods!

      almost 5 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar

      I couldn't eat or drink, and it was 100 outside. So, I finally figured out fruit was good because it took care of the eating and drinking at the same time. I ate a lot of watermelon, apples, etc. Anything with liquid in it.

      almost 5 years ago
    • dmholt1957's Avatar

      If you are having trouble eating, don't try eating your favorite foods just in case it makes you not want them after the chemo is over. I also ate everything with plastic ware so you wouldn't have to put a metal fork or spoon in my mouth and that helped a whole lot. Make sure you take all your meds and hopefully that will help you too. The best thing I ate and held on my stomach was stewed potatoes. I honestly didn't have a lot of trouble eating, I was truly blessed. If you continue to have a lot of trouble talk to your doctors. I pray that things go better for you. God bless.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Lopsided's Avatar

      Hi, I have trouble eating too! My taste buds have completely altered and nothing tastes the same any more! I find that salty things are best but my family are not in agreement as I put way too much salt in everything. I now get my children to taste test everything I make before I add any seasoning!! I only manage a few mouthfulls anyway and don't really enjoy any food now. I make myself eat because I know I have to! I find if I make tiny portions I'm better as if I'm faced with a plate of food I'm put off straight away! It's all very annoying as I used to love going out to dinner with my husband and family and now I don't!

      almost 5 years ago
    • sme's Avatar

      As many have already said, you need to get some protein in there and for me, peanut butter would stay down for me, even though it tasted pretty bland during treatment. I use to put it on banana slices, celery or toast. A friend suggested anything with a tomato base such as tomato soup, spaghetti sauce. While it did not taste like tomato sauce should, it did cut through that "dirty salt water" taste I had in my mouth. Also ate lots of baked sweet potatoes with butter on it on some black beans on it. This is your chance to modify your "favorite guilty pleasure" pre chemo food, if you want to permanently eliminate it from your life! If you eat a lot of it during your treatments, you most likely will never want to eat it again! Hang in there.

      almost 5 years ago
    • jojo2's Avatar

      The chemo class said not to eat your favorite foods because there was a possibility you would not like them after treatment was done. My favorite tea tasted awful and water was bad too. I drank water as quickly as possible because sipping was out of the question. Keep track of your intake because it's easy to drink too little. I eliminated any foods that tasted off, chocolate tasted burnt. I ended up eating grilled cheese sandwiches, Velveeta only with white bread and mac and cheese. Bland and easy to digest. If eating issues are related to nausea, tell your team. I ended up on Zofran every 8 hours for the rest of chemo and weaned off slowly. My normal taste returned. Don't hesitate to go in for extra fluids because it flushes the drugs out quicker hopefully will shorten the side effects.

      almost 5 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar

      Great question cheygrl.

      A lot of WhatNexters struggle with side effects of chemo like loss of appetite and change/loss of taste. Your question reminded me of two blog articles we posted on the site - one about maintaining or gaining weight after chemo and one on battling metallic taste during chemo. I copied the links below. Maybe they will provide some insight.



      Best of luck!

      almost 5 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      This is different for everyone. Keep trying, and try to get your nutrients. Talk to a nutritionist - the hospital my oncologist is allied with met with me and offered good advice. I forget if there was no charge, or if my insurance covered it. Worth trying.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Coolgm's Avatar

      I guess I was an odd ball. My Oncologist told me not to lose weight and eat what I wanted & I did. One thing that is important is staying hydrated and water tasted awful. I did some reasearch and found food that can substitute for water. Jello, watermellon, tea, soda etc. All these have some equivalent of water. I found nibbling on salty items like crackers, chips, pretzles helped a lot with my continuous queasy stomache. I craved oranges and tangerines and ate them all day long as well as squeezed and had fresh juice. I would recommend finding a nutrition book for cancer patients at the book store or library. You'll get good information and can come up with ideas that will be right for you. Wishing you love, prayers & a speedy recovery.

      almost 5 years ago
    • JODYRJ's Avatar

      I think you're seeing by all these answers that yes, this is common, and no, there isn't usually one solution. It's very hard to eat when you don't want to. I was referred to a nutritionist who provided some advice on some products to buy to add nutrients and calories to food - so you could add the powder to pudding, for example, and get more calories and good stuff in you while just getting some bland pudding down. As others have cited, you can supplement with Ensure and similar products, but do try not to get dehydrated - it only makes everything worse!
      I certainly learned later not to take for granted when taste and pleasurable eating returned!

      almost 5 years ago
    • joyuss59's Avatar

      I had a hard time eating during chemo ! taste buds changed , everything for me was so sweet tasting it was sickening ! they told me that was the first they had heard of that and usually people complain about everything tasteing like metal !
      stopped drinking coffee ,sodas, at one point I didn't eat for a week and lost 30 lbs ! unfortunately I have found the 30 lbs back ! It took a while for things to start to taste good after chemo! I still have trouble with the smells of some stuff like diesel ,cig smoke, wood stoves etc. hope this helps ! good luck to you

      almost 5 years ago
    • KFH's Avatar

      While I was on chemo, very little tasted good, but this is when I changed my mindset to eat for 'sustenance' rather than enjoyment, as I knew I needed to eat nutritiously. I also wanted to keep nausea at bay so tried to make sure I ate small amounts frequently. I really increased fluids, made sure I had protein, fruits & veggies. I stayed away from junk as it doesn't do anything for your body. Fortunately it all gets better, your appetite and taste buds will return after chemo. Hang in there, you can do this!

      almost 5 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      I think you can see from the responses that you are experiencing a common phenomena. Often nothing tastes good so just keeping health stuff around and eating just because you know you need to is one way to deal with it. I didn't even feel like cooking during chemo and after each round different foods seemed to taste better than others. Ironically stuff with spices seemed at least a bit more appealing and tasty like chilli with cumin/chili powder; spinach or kale sauteed with onions and garlic; etc. After my last round, I spent a week eating nothing but chunky organic peanut butter on toasted sprouted wheat bread.

      The good news is that it does pass--in fact for me it improved within 4-5 weeks post my last dose of chemo. Unfortunately, now everything tastes good again (except some of the teas I drank during chemo--but I think that is psychological) so I have to be much more conscientious about eating healthily and keeping my calorie count down. :)

      almost 5 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had horrid heartburn on chemo....onc Rx Nexium for me...it helped some....I ate whatever I could enjoy which wasn't much....lost weight on chemo....onc wanted me to drink boost or ensure but I refused...couldn't stand the thought of putting it in my mouth....but I did drink strawberry smoothies, ate watermelon, apples, chicken, potatoes...I didn't like anything with strong smells....

      almost 5 years ago
    • Paw's Avatar

      Hi cheygrl. I have went to the same things- a lost of appetite and food taste funny, Zometa had my lower jaw bone, mouth and lower lip in pain and a numbing and tingling feeling. It felt like my jaw was shifting to the left. I'm not taking Zometa any more but my lower lip is swollen. I bite it a lot when I chew and I still have the numbing, tingling feeling. I have lost 35-40 lbs. One of my insensitive friends jokingly told me I look like a crack head.

      almost 5 years ago
    • BarbaraHobbs' Avatar

      The first time I had chemo 20 years ago, I survived on ensure and gateraid. Things are better for me this time around. I still rely on ensure when I just can't eat anything, but with the anti-nausea medicine I can usually eat something. ice cream, apple sauce, sometimes frozen berries (thawed), fresh raspberries, banana, pancakes, sometimes toast, and most juices.

      almost 5 years ago
    • marshala1's Avatar

      I did what I was told not to and ate my favorite things which are carbs, carbs, carbs! Pasta, cheeseburgers, etc. I had heard so many stories of people not being able to eat that I was glad to be able to even though I knew it was too many carbs. Nothing healthy appealed to me at all except clementines which always tasted good even when nothing else appealed to me. I am one year and eight months past my chemo and still love my carbs, but working hard to lose weight ;) Good luck to you!

      almost 5 years ago
    • serenity101's Avatar

      Lemonade went down better than water. I craved Mexican food. I avoided Chinese food and foods with onions. Other than that, I just went with what sounded good at the moment.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Carol3's Avatar

      Chicken soup is best. Home made is better.
      Carnation instant breakfast w banana for protein.
      No alcohol. Tastes like aluminum
      Good luck

      almost 5 years ago

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