There are a number of side effects caused by GIST medications. Altered taste syndrome is a common and annoying side effect for many GIST patients. Gleevec and Sutent have a bitter taste associated with them, like most medications. When these drugs get into your saliva, they alter the tastes that you associate with foods. Many GIST patients have complained that the foods they used to love often have a harsh metallic taste.

There is nothing worse than sitting down to enjoy your favorite comfort food and realizing you can’t stand the taste. Not to worry because there are some tips out there to help you enjoy your food while fighting GIST.

A recent NPR article on the subject interviewed chef Rebecca Katz.  She is the author of  The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, and One Bite At A Time and helps cancer patients learn how to enjoy food during their treatment.

She encourages the patients that she works with to try new flavors and spices because your taste buds do not have a predetermined idea of how they should taste. She recommends introducing new spices like cumin, cinnamon, and coriander to help perk up your taste buds.

Katz also recommends adding a little acid (lemons, limes and oranges) to food and water that has a metallic taste. If your food tastes bland (like you are eating cardboard), Katz recommends adding salt. Sea salt is preferred because it hasn’t been processed like typical table salt. For bitter or harsh foods she recommends adding a small drop of Grade B organic maple syrup to improve the taste. She also says that fats can be helpful. Since fat is a natural flavor carrier, Katz recommends using olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.

Tips for coping with Altered Taste Syndrome:

  • Brush your teeth when you wake up, after each snack or meal, and before you go to bed.
  • Use mouthwash after each meal.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water or .9% salt water solution after each meal and before bed.
  • Take in an adequate amount of fluid.
  • Chew mints, gum, or ice to mask tastes.
  • Metal spoons can create a metallic taste in foods, so you may want to try and use a plastic eating utensil instead to decrease your food’s altered taste. Eating red meats as opposed to chicken, eggs, fish, beans, dairy products, and peanut butter may also help control altered taste.
  • When eating meat, make sure to marinate the food in sweet fruit juices, wine, salad dressing, and other types of sweet sauces. You can also flavor food with spices, sugar, lemon, and herbs to make food taste good to you. Frozen or cold food may also taste better.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking to lessen the affects of taste changes.
  • Some patients have also reported that not eating 1-2 hrs before taking medication and three hours after therapy helps reduce taste disturbance.
  • If you have dentures, make sure to remove your dentures before going to bed, because dentures left in overnight is a frequent cause of taste disturbance.
  • Above all, try to make your eating experience enjoyable by eliminating odors and eating in a nice place.

Here are some helpful links for more information about altered taste syndrome:

Be sure to visit our managing side effects section to learn about other side effects from GIST medications.

We would love to hear from you about tips for dealing with altered taste syndrome. Share your tips in the comment section below. Get involved in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.