Not tasting food can take the fun out of eating. Taste loss, formally known as ageusia, can occur naturally with aging or as a side effect of medical conditions and treatments such as nasal issues, chemotherapy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other neurological problems.
As a result of COVID-19, there has recently been an increase in people losing their taste. It’s the fourth most commonly reported side effect, with 20-30% of COVID-19 cases reporting some degree of taste and smell loss.
Taste loss can be temporary for some people and permanent for others. This can have serious consequences for your mental and physical well-being over time, potentially leading to malnutrition, depression, and disinterest in eating.
This article offers ten suggestions for what to eat when you can’t taste anything.
Here are Some Tips
Concentrate on your other senses.
If you’re having trouble tasting food, try focusing on your other main senses while eating.
Consider the appearance of your food, for example. Take note of the colors, textures, and variety that surround you. You could make your meals more visually appealing by using different colors or spending time garnishing your plate.
Slow down while chewing and pay attention to the subtle differences in textures and sounds with each bite. To stimulate your senses of sound and touch, you may want to include crunchier foods in your meal.
Finally, try to incorporate other aspects of eating and food preparation, such as fun food presentation, creating an engaging social environment, and experimenting with new recipes.
Experiment with various foods.
Though you may have a diminished ability to taste food in general, you may be able to taste certain things more than others. Experimenting with different foods and identifying which ones you can taste more or less of can help you improve your eating experience.
Furthermore, sour and tart foods can enhance and stimulate the taste buds. In this case, more citrus flavors (think lemon, orange, and lime) may be beneficial.
Additionally, certain spices, herbs, vinegar, and seasonings may help enhance the flavor of your meal.
Furthermore, this could be an excellent opportunity to incorporate nutritious foods that you normally avoid into your diet. For example, if you’re not a fan of certain vegetables, now might be a good time to incorporate them into your recipes.
Some people prefer blander foods to lower their expectations of a flavorful meal. As a result, try out different meals to see what works best for you.
Consume foods that you enjoy.
People who do not enjoy eating are more likely to become malnourished.
This emphasizes the importance of focusing on any aspect of eating that you find interesting and enjoyable, as this will motivate you to nourish your body with food (8Trusted Source).
If you prefer the taste of certain foods over others, include them in your diet more frequently, even if they are less nutritious. For example, if adding a high-salt condiment to your dish makes it easier to eat, go ahead and use it.
This could even imply eating the same foods daily. While a varied diet is generally recommended, eating a few select foods you enjoy is preferable to not eating at all.
People with certain medical conditions or dietary restrictions, such as high blood pressure or celiac disease, may need to work with a dietitian or other medical professional to ensure they’re eating both enjoyable and appropriate foods.
Consume smaller, more frequent meals.
Eating a large meal may feel like a burden to some because it is less enjoyable without flavor.
As a result, eating snacks or smaller meals throughout the day can help you get enough nutrition quickly and easily. You may want to eat every 2-4 hours in this case.
Include at least two carbs, protein, and healthy fats in each small meal or snack.
Maintain good oral hygiene.
Maintaining good oral hygiene may improve your ability to taste food (9Trusted Source).
Maintain a clean mouth by flossing and brushing your teeth regularly. Brush your tongue as well to remove any food debris. Brushing one’s teeth 10-20 minutes before eating is also recommended by some people.
You can use an oral rinse to keep your mouth clean between meals. Here’s a quick and easy rinse you can make at home:
2 cups (500 mL) water, one teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda
Fill a sealable bottle halfway with the solution.
Shake the bottle before each use and pour one tablespoon (15 mL) of the solution into a cup.
Swish the solution in your mouth for at least 30 seconds before spitting it out.
Discard the remaining solution.
What are Some Other Tips?
Here are some more hints to help you improve your dining experience:
Keep track of expiration dates.
A lack of taste can make it difficult to detect when foods taste “off” or have gone bad. If a food item has passed its expiration date or appears to be spoiled, it is best to discard it.
Drink plenty of fluids.
A lack of fluids can cause dry mouth, impairing your ability to taste. Drink water between meals and while eating in small sips.
Take a supplement orally.
When you don’t want to eat, try an oral nutritional supplement like Boost or Ensure, a smoothie, protein, or meal replacement shake.
Experiment with eating in a distracting environment. Unlike most intuitive eating practices, you may want to use distractions such as a television or a lively social environment to divert your attention away from your taste changes.
Seek professional assistance.
Speak with a healthcare professional for assistance in dealing with your sudden change in taste. They can assist you in finding unique solutions and navigating this difficult time.
Avoid excessive salt and sugar.
Adding salt and sugar to food can improve flavor. However, too much of either can be harmful to one’s health. So use this time to cut back on sugar and salt; you may want less even after you regain your taste.
Experiment with chilled, hot, or room temperature foods: The temperature of food can alter its flavor, so try experimenting with chilled, hot, or room temperature food. You may find one more appealing than the others.
Plan your meals.
It is critical to nourish your body, especially when you are ill. Consume as much as you can at regular intervals. Set alarms to remind you to eat if necessary.
Snack on something small: When you can’t taste, eating a large meal at once can be tedious, and you may struggle to finish it. To combat this, eat small snacks throughout the day.
Make a meal plan: Take the time to plan what you’ll eat each day to maintain a healthy diet. That way, you won’t have to think too hard when it’s time to eat.
Experiment with different environments: A lack of taste can detract from the enjoyment of eating. As a result, watching TV or engaging in another distracting activity while eating may be beneficial. However, this is probably not the best way to eat normally.
It can be upsetting and stressful to lose your sense of taste.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings and grieve this loss, whether temporary or permanent and be gentle with yourself on days when you are particularly frustrated.
What Causes Taste Loss?
Experts aren’t sure what causes taste loss in people with COVID-19. They believe that ageusia is caused by inflamed olfactory glands (responsible for your sense of smell).
COVID-19 is commonly associated with ageusia. In fact, according to a study of over 8,000 participants, 41 percent of people with COVID-19 experience loss of taste and smell. While this may appear insignificant compared to the potentially fatal COVID-19 complications, ageusia can negatively impact mental health.
Aside from COVID-19, ageusia can be a symptom of:
- Sinus infections
- The flu
- The common cold
- Salivary gland infections
- Crohn’s disease
It can also be a result of:
- Oral hygiene issues
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics,
- Deficiencies in nutrition
Loss of smell can also occur naturally as you age or as a result of an injury to your mouth or nose. Because so much of our flavor perception is related to our sense of smell, people who lose their ability to taste frequently also lose their ability to smell (anosmia).
How Long does Taste Loss Last?
The duration of ageusia varies depending on the cause. Many people’s sense of taste does not return (or takes a long time) after being infected with COVID-19.
Researchers reported that after administering COVID-19 to 202 participants, 84 percent regained their sense of taste within a month.
According to a more recent study, people who recover from COVID-19 have an 80% chance of regaining their sense of taste and smell within six months. People under the age of 40 have a better chance of regaining their sense of taste and smell than those over 40. More research is needed to determine the duration and severity of ageusia in COVID-19 patients.
Can Taste Loss be Cured?
There is no cure for taste loss, and the taste can sometimes return when the underlying problem is resolved.
Because taste and smell are inextricably linked, improving your sense of smell may hurt your sense of taste. Certain smell disorders have been treated with smell training, it entails inhaling strong odors to stimulate your olfactory glands. This process, however, can take weeks or months, and some people do not see results.
People have been getting creative to reactivate their taste buds. A recent Tiktok viral trend showed users burning orange and eating it with brown sugar to cure their loss of taste. This tip is most likely anecdotal and lacks evidence-based research to back it up.
What Foods Pair Well with Covid?
Adding strong flavors to food, such as herbs and sauces like apple sauce, mint sauce, cranberry sauce, horseradish, mustard, and pickles, can help the taste. Spices can also enhance flavor. Sharp/tart flavors like orange, lemon, and lime can help balance out overly sweet tastes.
Can Dysgeusia be Avoided?
You can protect your sense of taste by doing the following:
- Control systemic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure to prevent them from affecting your sense of taste and avoid medications that can impair your sense of taste.
- We should avoid tobacco use because it can impair our senses of taste and smell.
- Practice good dental hygiene to reduce inflammation and the growth of organisms that can cause bad breath.
- Keep your mouth moist by staying hydrated.
Can Dysgeusia be Avoided?
You can protect your sense of taste by doing the following:
Control systemic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure to prevent them from affecting your sense of taste and avoid medications that can impair your sense of taste.
We should avoid tobacco use because it can impair our senses of taste and smell.
Practice good dental hygiene to reduce inflammation and the growth of organisms that can cause bad breath.
Keep your mouth moist by staying hydrated.
Changes in taste, abrupt or gradual, can make eating less enjoyable.
There are numerous causes of taste changes, and discovering ways to improve your taste and eating experiences may restore some enjoyment to eating.
However, adjusting to new tastes takes time and can be both physically and mentally taxing. If you have difficulty coping, speak with a healthcare professional who can help you through this difficult time.