A Cookbook Is Being Developed For Chemotherapy Patients That Suffer From Taste Change

When cancer patients undergo chemotherapy, one of the things they may not expect to happen is taste loss. There is a new Kickstarter project called Chemo Kitchen that is helping to combat this issue.

For those wondering why patients' tastes change, the drugs utilized in these treatments are designed to kill fast-growing cells, which happens to include taste buds. "Some people suffer palate changes resulting in 'metal mouth' or just unusual taste change," Chemo Kitchen Executive Director and Co-Founder, Michelle Abbess, tells Foodbeast. "For others, taste is wiped out completely."

To help patients navigate around these taste changes during recovery, Abbess is leading a team working on a cookbook that creates recipes to help combat it. Their project, Chemo Kitchen, has hit 75% of its funding goal with a few days left to go on Kickstarter.


Chemo Kitchen was inspired by co-founder Cal McAlister, whose mom discovered that her favorite food "tasted like dirt" during chemotherapy, according to Abbess. Abbess's team has curated a group of chefs to help develop the recipes designed with taste change in mind. They help make cooking more enjoyable and visually appealing for those undergoing treatment, but also provide plenty of aroma as well.

Dishes in the cookbook include salads, soups, snacks, and main dishes that are all engineered for taste-change. The Chemo Kitchen team has tested them out in their kitchens, and according to their site, reviews have been "outstanding" so far.

Abbess and her group are looking to meet their funding goal of $40,000 by July 27th so that they can fund their initial print-run of the cookbook. If successful, they plan to start distributing it by December 2018.


In the meantime, Abbess offered up plenty of tips on how best to combat taste change in chemotherapy at home.

"If loss of appetite is an issue, get creative. Well-balanced snacks can replace meals. Or, try one of our recipes designed to be frozen in small portions. Focus on calories and protein for energy because the body needs it during treatment more than ever before. It helps keep your immune system strong so you can FIGHT. And keep tasting a variety of foods—as much as you can manage. Taste buds turnover every two weeks so your taste will continue to change. Last week’s yuck could be this week’s yum!"
All photos courtesy of Chemo Kitchen