Taste changes are one of the least talked about side effects of chemotherapy. Also known as chemo palate, this side effect turns what was once perfectly delicious food into something strange and unpleasant tasting. Food won’t taste as it should until your body’s fast-growing cells, of which taste buds are one, have had a chance to recover, regenerate and get back to normal. When this happens, it’s best to avoid eating any favorites that don’t taste right anymore. They may look the same but they sure won’t taste the same. And there’s no point in chasing the taste in the hope that they will. This is important to remember because taste and smell are among the strongest memory triggers we humans have, and if you keep trying with these foods, chances are you will never be able to eat them with enjoyment again.
Now there is a culinary upside to all this. When taste changes strike, it’s a great time to experiment with strong flavors in the kitchen. This may seem counterintuitive, but many patients crave strong flavors and hot spicy foods to blast their impaired palates. Food doesn’t need to be loaded with mouth-tingling chile unless you can take it, but this is a perfect time to experiment with sweet spices, many of which have cancer-fighting properties, like turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, sweet paprika or curry powder. If you like the heat, you can try hot, spicy cuisines like Indian, Korean and Thai, or spice up your sandwiches with condiments like kimchi, hot sauces, and chutneys.