The chemotherapy that comes along with many cancer treatments can cause unpleasant symptoms, from nausea to fatigue to everything in between. The simple act of enjoying a once favorite meal can become repulsive to those on chemotherapy drugs. One chef has tasked herself with understanding the changing taste buds of cancer patients, developing cookbooks (The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time) with countless recipes to make meals more pleasurable for people on chemo.
Time reports about chef Rebecca Katz’s quest to make food more palatable for people battling cancer. Hollye Jacobs explains how the taste of food changed drastically, often tasting like cardboard and metal, when she was undergoing chemo treatments for breast cancer in 2010. She says, “Nothing tasted good, nothing was appealing, I didn't have any desire whatsoever to eat. The metal mouth was horrible, even just saying it again, I can taste it.”
Katz’s remedies to solve the “metal mouth” problem among other issues fall under the acronym FASS which stands for fat, acid, salt and sweet. She explains how adding some of these different elements to foods can make a world of difference to cancer patients.
Through her research Katz has found that when foods taste like metal, adding something acidic like lemon, oranges or limes can negate that flavor. And for getting rid of a cardboard flavor adding salt will help. Sweet additives like maple syrup or honey will combat overly bitter tastes and adding fat will enhance just about any flavor. She says, “Fat is like a magic carpet traversing back and forth across your palate, delivering tastes, so all of a sudden you have that involuntary spasm of vocal delight, turning yuck into yum.”
What do you think of Rebecca Katz’s remedies to reduce chemotherapy symptoms like “metal mouth”?