Dossier: Healthy eating

What to do when you lose your sense of taste

There are many reasons why you might lose your sense of smell and taste. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are affected than ever before. These tips will help you enjoy meals nevertheless.

Text: Jessica Braun; photo: Craig Robertson

Your sense of smell also plays a role when you’re eating. If you’ve got a blocked nose, even the tastiest feast loses its appeal. COVID-19 can also affect your sense of smell and taste. Other causes include allergies, polyps, brain damage, a tumour, chemotherapy, certain medications, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or simply old age. However, you can still use all your senses to enjoy a meal. Find out how below:

Experiment with different tastes

A human tongue has around 25,000 sensor cells. Taste buds can detect all tastes, but some areas of the tongue are more sensitive to them than others. The tip of the tongue is particularly sensitive to sweet things, while the sides at the front react more to salt. The sides are most sensitive to acidic flavours. And the back third specialises in bitterness. It’s a good idea to experiment with different flavours if you lose your sense of taste.

Eat a wide variety of food

If everything tastes the same, there’s a risk that your diet will also become one-sided and lack important nutrients.

Make your food colourful

Several studies have shown that colourful dishes make you fuller and more satisfied. To make your food more interesting, try adding diced carrot to spinach, add puréed beetroot to potatoes or serve a piece of chocolate cake with a turmeric latte.

Enhance flavours with umami

The aroma of soya sauce or Parmesan generally gives a meal a more intensive flavour.

Add texture

Roasted nuts, seeds or roughly chopped salty peanuts or cashews can enhance the flavour. The same is true of crunchy fruit and vegetables such as apples and carrots.

Be mindful of sugar and salt

Adding more sugar or salt may seem like an obvious solution, but it’s not a good idea.

Join forces with fellow sufferers

While patient organisations have been set up in many countries, German-speaking countries are lagging a bit behind. However, there are some groups on social media where you can share information.

Psychologist and smell and taste researcher Kathrin Ohla is a member of the steering committee of the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR). She and her team have developed a test for anyone who wants to measure their sense of smell and taste at home: (in German)