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Coping with nausea and taste changes

Date issued: November 2023

Review date: November 2025

Ref: C-124/Dietetics/SB/Coping with taste changes for people with kidney disease v3

PDF:   Coping with nausea and taste changes for people with kidney disease.pdf [pdf] 222KB

Renal Dietitians

01752 439961

Kidney Care UK

Kidney Kitchen

National Kidney Federation

It is common for some people with chronic kidney disease to experience problems with nausea and taste changes. This can be caused by the build-up of toxins in the body.

Unfortunately, these problems can cause a loss of appetite and weight loss.

Urea is one of the main waste products responsible for nausea and taste changes.  Urea is produced from the breakdown of foods high in protein. Your renal dietitian can check your diet to see if you are eating the right amount of protein.

This booklet highlights some of the common eating problems in people with chronic kidney disease, and suggests practical ways to manage these.

Taste changes

Some people find that their food tastes strange, usually metallic or bitter. In addition, some people develop an aversion to particular foods such as meat.

Taste changes

If your food tastes.



Avoid foods sweetened with saccharin - this can leave a bitter aftertaste


Gargle lemon juice before eating


Use plastic cutlery


Add lemon juice to your water


Dilute drinks with soda or mineral water


Use spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon to sugary foods/puddings to offset the sweetness


Avoid salty and processed foods


Add a pinch of sugar to food before serving

Aversion to meat/protein foods

Serve cold meats with pickle or chutney


Serve fish, chicken, and egg dishes with strong flavoured sauces i.e., curry, sweet and sour


Marinate meat in fruit juice or wine

More ideas to help you manage taste changes:

  • Rinse your mouth or clean your teeth before meals.

  • Suck on mints or chew gum.

  • Use herbs and spices to add flavour e.g., pepper, cumin, and rosemary.

  • Allow hot foods to cool down.

  • If you are prescribed nutritional supplements, your dietitian may be able to recommend a sharper tasting variety, such as a juice or yoghurt style supplement.


Build-up of waste products can also make you experience nausea and vomiting. Some people find the following helpful:

  • Rinse mouth with sodium bicarbonate solution:

    • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in 1 pint (570ml) of warm water.

  • Sip fizzy drinks e.g., soda water, lemonade.

  • Eat small, regular meals and snacks.

  • Chew gum or suck on mints.

  • Nibble dry biscuits, plain toast, or crackers.

  • Some people find ginger helps to relieve sickness, try nibbling ginger biscuits, sipping ginger beer or ginger sweets.

  • Avoid cooking and cooking smells, open windows or use an extractor fan during cooking and eating.

  • Avoid greasy, fatty and fried foods.

Poor appetite

Appetite loss in chronic kidney disease is common due to nausea, taste changes and tiredness.

  • Make the most of the times when you do feel like eating.

  • Accept offers of help with meal preparation.

  • Try ready meals, or a “meals on wheels” home delivery service if you are too tired to cook.

  • Eat little and often, try not to skip meals.

  • Eats foods that are better tolerated.

  • Eat in a relaxed environment, and rest for a little while after your meal.

  • Choose cold foods.

  • Make your food look attractive as possible with garnishes and serve smaller portions.

  • Keep high energy snacks handy, particularly if you cannot manage a full meal.

If you are struggling to eat or you are losing weight, contact your dietitian who can advise you on appropriate high calorie foods, or arrange for you to have nutritional supplements on prescription.

If you are following any dietary restrictions, your dietitian may also be able to advise you to relax these if you are not eating well.

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