If you have experienced a reduction in your sense of taste, try to:

  • Choose foods that you enjoy.
  • Try food and drinks that you have previously enjoyed again after a few weeks as your sense of taste may have changed.
  • Choose foods that smell pleasant to you to help improve your desire to eat.
  • Try new foods and new textures.
  • Try using colourful foods and present your meals nicely to make them more appealing.
  • Sharp tasting foods such as fresh fruit (particularly pineapple), fruit juices and sour or boiled sweets can be refreshing. Be careful if your mouth is sore as these may be painful to eat.
  • Suck boiled sweets or mints.
  • Experiment with the temperature of your food. You can also try combining temperatures i.e., hot or warm fruit crumble with ice cream.
  • Try to drink plenty of fluids.

Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and tongue regularly

You may also like to try to cleanse your palate by brushing your teeth and tongue to keep your mouth clean and freshen up before a meal. Rinsing your mouth with slightly salted water or lemon juice in water can also help (avoid doing this if you have any sores in your mouth as this can make them more painful). If you notice a white coating on your tongue or your saliva has changed colour/ texture, please speak to your doctor as you may have a fungal infection such as thrush which can also affect your taste.

To enhance savoury flavours in your food, you can:

  • Choose foods that have a strong flavour or add strong flavours such as onion, bacon bits or parmesan cheese.

  • Use seasonings, marinades, lemon juice, spices and herbs such as pepper, cumin, garlic, oregano, basil or rosemary to flavour. If your mouth is sore, you may find that some spices and seasonings can this feel worse, in which case avoid these spices/seasonings.
  • Add salty sauces or sauce/soup mixes to food.
  • Enhance the flavour of salads and vegetables by adding onions, orange, lemon juice or vinaigrette dressings.
  • Try marinating meat in fruit juices or wine, strong herbs, dry coating or cook in strong sauces such as curry, barbeque or sweet and sour. Be careful if your mouth is sore as these sauces may feel uncomfortable to eat.
  • Cold meats may taste better than hot and try them served with pickle or chutney.
  • Serve meat with sauces.
  • Try fish (smoked fish tends to have a stronger flavour), eggs, beans and pulses, cheese, and other dairy products as an alternative source of protein.
  • Try vegetarian alternatives to meat such as tofu or Quorn – these are good at absorbing the flavours you cook them with.

To enhance sweet flavours in your food, you can:

  • Season foods with sugar or lemon.

  • Flavour desserts with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, all spice, cardamom, ginger, rose water, or rhubarb.
  • Blend fruits and sweets with custard, blancmange, yoghurt or ice cream.
  • Add dried fruit, crystallised ginger, grated chocolate and nuts to desserts and puddings.

If your sense of taste for drinks has changed, you can:

  • Try lemon, herb or Chinese tea, hot chocolate, malted or milky drinks, hot squash, cold fruit juices or fizzy drinks if you no longer enjoy the taste of tea or coffee.
  • Try drinking through a straw if your mouth is sensitive to hot or cold drinks, of if the drink has a strong flavour.
  • Dilute drinks if they taste too strong.

If food tastes metallic, you can:

  • Try using plastic cutlery.
  • Try a gargle of lemon juice in water before and during meals (if your mouth is not sore).
  • Avoid tinned or canned foods.
  • Try adding a little dark chocolate to casseroles and sauces.
  • Mint flavours may help remove the taste.

If food tastes bitter, you should try to:

  • Avoid food and drinks that are sweetened with saccharin or other artificial sweeteners such as sugar free soft drinks, low fat salad dressings and dairy products.

How to manage your nutrition with a painful or sore mouth

A sore, dry, or painful mouth can be caused by conditions such as ulcers, thrush, gum disease, and some treatments such as chemotherapy. To help with this, you could try to:

  • Eat food at room temperature.
  • Choose cold foods and drinks as these can be soothing i.e., ice cream, milk, and yoghurts.
  • Choose soft and moist textured foods such as cottage pie or fish pie.
  • Add extra sauces to meals where possible.
  • Use children’s toothpaste and a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth.

If you have developed mouth ulcers because of your condition or treatment, let your doctor know. Some foods can make discomfort worse so try to avoid the following:

  • Salty or spicy foods as they may sting your mouth such as crisps, chilli, curry, or mustard.
  • Rough textured, dry or crispy foods can be abrasive such as toast, crackers, crisps, or nuts.
  • Acidic foods can also sting your mouth such as citrus fruits and juices or vinegar.
  • Sticky textured foods such as peanut butter or chocolate.