Taste and smell go hand in hand to provide us with the delicious flavors of every meal. However, as we age, those senses tend to diminish, leaving food bland and un-enjoyable. Often this can lead to loss of appetite, inability to detect spoiled food or harmful ingredients, and a lingering sadness for the loss of enjoyment brought by food.
Many factors can be contributing to the loss of taste and smell. These include:
- Certain medications such as blood pressure medication or ACE inhibitors
- Allergies-interfering with the sense of smell
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chemo or radiation therapy
- Dry mouth
While it is unknown how to cure or prolong our senses, there are ways to bring flavor and enjoyment back into our mealtimes. These suggestions include:
- Spicing-up meals: There is an abundance of options to choose from when adding spices to meals. Herbs and salt-free spices will provide flavor without increasing blood pressure. Trying new spices and adding variety into meals can help the flavor shine through. Using low-sodium options such as citrus juice and citrus zest can help revive the taste in meals while monitoring sodium intake.
- Colorful meals: Choosing visually pleasing foods can help bring back the desire for that food. Adding color and texture can significantly increase the flavor/enjoyment of that meal. Look for fresh and bright vegetables and fruits to incorporate at mealtimes.
- Monitor temperature: Foods taste best when eaten at their intended temperature. Some individuals may find they enjoy foods at a hotter or colder temperature than initially served.
- Switch to plastic: Some medications may bring out the metallic taste in silverware when eating. Switching to plastic cutlery at mealtimes can help decrease the metallic taste, making the meals more enjoyable.
Taste and smell play a significant role in our quality of life, making it imperative to understand how we can help those struggling with this loss. While these tricks may not solve the underlying issue, they may alleviate the frustrations of those dealing with the loss of taste or smell.