Food With No Taste

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No matter what the food is, no one likes a flavorless meal. Food that lacks taste can be frustrating to cook and even more frustrating when you are hungry. Not only can a lack of taste make eating boring, but also unhealthy as well. Food should be a pleasurable experience that tastes great and brings enjoyment to your life. This blog will help you learn about some steps you can take to improve the way your food tastes and make it more exciting for yourself and those around you.”

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Food With No Taste

Tasteless food items that are extremely healthy​ too!

‘Good taste is as good as a good company’, these words are good to motivate you on a dull day. But, when it comes to health, it is not just about the taste. You will be surprised to know that many of the tasteless or bland food items are rich in nutrients and are considered extremely healthy for the human body. And we often end up wondering why all healthy foods are so tasteless. Imagine how easy it would have been to lose weight if ice creams were healthy, pizzas would contribute to lowering the cholesterol and chocolates would aid in curing diabetes! Sounds wishful? Sadly, the reality is otherwise. Here is a list of foods that are loaded with health benefits but are so bland you don’t want to eat them!

 Spinach

Why it is tasteless: It contains an organic compound called oxalic acid that makes it taste bland and bitter at times.
Low in calories, and high in antioxidants like flavonoid makes it helpful in preventing health issues like ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. It is also good for the brain.

Oyster

Why it is tasteless: Its existence under the harsh sea water is considered as the main reason for the tastelessness.
It looks weird and tastes different as well, but is considered good to treat hair loss and dandruff. Regular consumption of oyster improves the level of androgen hormone production that fights hair loss and dandruff. It also boosts the libido for both men and women.

 Oats

Why it is tasteless: Oat is basically grain of the cereal plant that is milled, steamed, heated and further cooled in a kiln resulting in loss of flavour.
In simple words, it is tasteless. If we go by the health reports, it has health-boosting nutrients that are good for the female body. It improve digestion, keep blood pressure levels in check and the presence of vitamin B6 helps prevent PMS and mood swings.

 Prunes

 Prunes
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Why it is tasteless: It is the dried plum that is exposed to sunlight and manual processing, resulting in loss of natural juices and taste.

It is loaded with antioxidants and fibre and is good for your immunity and gut.

Kefir

Why it is tasteless: Kefir is bland in taste because of the fermentation process of milk that leads to the growth of live bacteria in it.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains live bacteria and aids in digestion, cleaning the gut and also boosts the immunity. It is important to keep the gut healthy, as it is directly related to your state of mind.

 Flax seeds

Why it is tasteless: It is believed that the presence of strong natural oil makes it taste bitter.
Like any other seed, it is bland in taste but is loaded with magnesium, manganese, potassium, and fibre. It helps fight diabetes, heart disease, and even constipation.

 Chia seeds

 Chia seeds
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Why it is tasteless: It is a by-product of Salvia Hispanica, a flowering plant, that when treated and processed loses all its natural flavour.
It is tasteless and when soaked, the sticky texture looks very unappetizing. But, interestingly, it is rich in fibre and eating it in between your meal helps avoid bingeing and overeating. Considered rich in protein, it is also helpful in building muscle.

Broccoli

Why it is tasteless: According to various research reports, the presence of TAS2R38 gene is considered responsible for the bitter taste of broccoli.
Rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium and iron, broccoli is very bland in taste. According to doctors, it possesses antioxidants that help protect healthy cells from damage

Beetroot

Why it is tasteless: It is the presence of geosmin, an organic compound responsible for the muddy smell that makes it sound bitter and earthy.
Dark red in colour, this seasonal vegetable is rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A. It is suggested to eat beetroot daily for improved stamina, better blood flow and lowered cholesterol.

How to Eat Well When You Lose Your Sense of Taste or Smell

Perhaps one of the most common but least talked about symptoms of illness is the loss of taste and smell. It happens across the spectrum of diseases and can be either short-lived or long-lasting. It’s a common long-term side effect of certain cancer treatments, but also happens in the short term for people with bad colds or the flu. And of course, it is now known to be one of the many symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Blistered Peppers with Lime
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Pictured Recipe: Blistered Shishito Peppers with Lime

While the loss of taste or smell is usually a symptom of underlying disease and doesn’t have immediate health consequences on its own, it can make it difficult for people to eat a healthy and adequate diet. Not being able to enjoy food really dulls the incentive to eat well! The good news? There are things you can do to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need, even if you can’t taste food the way you usually do.

Read More: What Foods Can I Bring to Someone with Coronavirus?

Chili-Rubbed Chicken with Coconut Rice & Mango Salsa
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Pictured Recipe: Chili-Rubbed Chicken with Coconut Rice & Mango Salsa

Causes for losing your sense of taste and/or smell.

“Our ability to smell comes from the functions of a specific cranial nerve, and taste involves the functions of many nerves including specific cranial nerves,” says Caroline West Passerrello, M.S., RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Taste and smell can be impacted individually or simultaneously, and the severity can range from a mild impairment to a complete loss.”

Both senses naturally decline as we age, although the rate at which that happens varies from person to person. Smoking also dulls our sense of taste and smell, and chronic smoking can lead to a significant decline in both over time.

Related: Healthy Recipes to Eat When You Have Cancer

But there are other more specific, immediate causes of impaired olfaction (smell) and gustation (taste). “Inflammation of the nasal mucosa and sinuses, which can happen when your body defends itself against viruses like the common cold or coronavirus, is associated with impaired olfaction,” Passerrello says. “Tumors, head trauma and certain medications can also impair our ability to taste and smell,” she says. This can happen with many medications, but is particularly severe and common in chemotherapy and radiation for cancer treatment.

How I Enjoyed Eating When I Lost My Sense of Smell & Taste

“As a result of COVID, I went almost two months without any sense of taste or smell whatsoever. The first few days were shocking, but it eventually became almost ordinary, then turned into something that I wanted to learn from.”

When I caught the coronavirus in December 2020, I was fortunate to experience only mild symptoms (which I combated with bed rest, Tylenol, and plenty of fluids). Unfortunately, by day eight, my sense of smell and taste went from normal to nothing—in a matter of hours. What was initially an inconvenience swiftly became a powerful experience that now influences the way I live and work.

I am a food stylist: On a daily basis, I source groceries, prepare recipes, and arrange food on set for magazines, websites, cookbooks, and advertising. Thankfully, the food’s appearance on camera tends to be more important than taste in this profession, but my palate is still important to my work.

I’d briefly lost some sense of taste and smell before from the flu, but this time was different. As a result of COVID, I went almost two months without any sense of taste or smell whatsoever. The first few days were shocking, but it eventually became almost ordinary, then turned into something that I wanted to learn from.

A great deal of food styling involves comparing one type or brand of products to others by studying their appearance and functionality. For example, organic and non-organic powdered sugar read differently on camera, and shredded Sargento mozzarella cheese melts differently than Kraft does. My job requires that I pick the best-looking option, but it’s impossible to completely ignore taste and smell from influencing me on some level, even subconsciously.

Blind taste tests are a favorite game of mine—this was one of the first times I was scent- and flavor-blind, too. So I decided to play with my senses and see what I could learn. My first blindfolded self-experimentation at home without taste or smell was with cocktails, oddly enough. It’s not like I was trying to drink away the virus, but after my stronger symptoms had subsided and I was no longer taking Tylenol, I thought I’d at least try to have some fun with my newfound diminished senses. I began with four mini drinks (a Manhattan, a negroni, a mezcal margarita, and straight vodka) that were labeled on the bottom and blindly shuffled. Turns out, I couldn’t taste a difference between any of the drinks, let alone figure out what any of them were. My guesses were all over the place—I thought the margarita was vodka. But the funny part is I still liked some of the drinks more than others.

When it came to food, I found myself wanting to eat crunchy, rich main dishes, but had little interest in dessert (which I usually love). Why, without smell or taste, did I not enjoy or crave certain foods or drinks, and preferred others? I have a few hypotheses.

Though my senses have returned, I still think about what I picked up when I couldn’t fully experience what I was consuming. I feel that others may be able to incorporate these observations into their own eating and drinking practice to be more conscientious eaters and drinkers—whether or not they have a sense of smell and taste to rely on.


Does Mouthfeel Matter?

If you scoff when you see this overused word around food, let me tell you that I, too, used to roll my eyes at it. Though it technically references the physical sensations in the mouth brought on by food or drink, mouthfeel is the term I’ve found that sommeliers use when describing wines I cannot afford. I considered any strong reaction to mouthfeel an enigma, even all but made up.

I will now humbly tell you that mouthfeel turned out to be crucial when it came to what I preferred when I could not taste. The initial experiment with alcohol taught me on a different level something I already knew—food and drink don’t always feel pleasant in my mouth. Vodka can burn and mezcal can be overwhelmingly smoky, distracting from the feel of the cocktail as it’s sipped. Foods can be too fatty, too sour, or too sweet. They hit our palates in the same area, overwhelming that spot without balance, so much so that we forget about mouthfeel altogether.

Pre-COVID, I did not notice as consciously how the flavor of a well-balanced food hits multiple parts of my mouth instead of overwhelming a specific area—I now often find myself noticing where flavors and textures are hitting my mouth. One of the best examples of a balanced mouthfeel is a high-quality milk chocolate, due to how it begins to melt in the mouth. This change in structure from solid to liquid helps different areas of the palate begin to pick up different flavors. The next time you eat a piece, think about how the chocolate feels in your mouth as it melts; and if you have a sense of taste, try to notice where the flavors of cocoa, vanilla, sugar, and salt are coming from around your tongue.

Cravings Are Simply What We Want

Years ago, I was told by a friend that cravings are based on nutritional needs. For example, if you were craving a glass of milk, your body needed calcium. Research, however, does not support this. In an essay on the subject, Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, notes that cravings “often have something to do with emotion and desire,” as opposed to what the body needs nutritionally.

During these COVID-consumed days, I craved heavily textured meats like chewy rib eye and tender barbecue brisket; as well as crunchy foods like potato chips, fried chicken, and french fries. While I was writing this piece, my editor wondered if my craving for tougher, crunchier foods had to do with wanting to feel my knife slicing through steak, and hear myself eating, as I couldn’t smell or taste. I believe it did. When one of our senses is impaired, we often have other ways to make up for this gap. When I was drinking a smoothie during this time, I remember thinking that if I closed my eyes, I had no way of knowing what I was consuming. This was completely different when I was eating a crispy fried chicken thigh.

Strangely, I had no interest in any form of sugar during this time, which is very rare for me. Breads, cookies, cakes, even alcohol weren’t calling to me like they had in the past. I was eating to fill myself up and satisfy the senses I had, instead of following flavor-driven desires. When my taste did return, I found myself wanting dessert again. Though now I know that my body doesn’t need (but rather my brain wants) a slice of cake when I’m craving it, it was comforting to know those signals weren’t lost forever.

Spice & Heat Tolerance, Revisited

I began my next test with spicy food, which I typically have a low tolerance for. Without my sense of taste, spicy food was practically the only way I could feel what I was eating. This is likely because spice isn’t actually a flavor. “The fiery heat you feel on your tongue when you eat chiles is technically not a taste, but rather, as we will see, a response to pain,” writes Nik Sharma in The Flavor Equation.

When I ordered Indian food, I amped up the spice level from my usual 5/10 to a 9/10. When cooking for myself, I would throw in more chiles, as well as vinegar (which is technically acid, but think of the difference between eating a chile and drinking a spoonful of hot sauce: When the the spice is infused in an acidic liquid, there’s a wider-spread distribution of heat in your mouth). I could feel that the food was spicy, but my mouth wasn’t on fire like it was when I could taste everything.

Now that my taste is fully back, I have a noticeable increase in tolerance of spice and a mildly accurate way to quantify it. I’ve also learned to simply notice where the heat is hitting (or numbing) my tongue and lips or stinging my nose, whether it makes my cheeks red or my forehead sweat—these observations have led to more full and complex flavor profiles explored in my cooking.

Smell Has A Lot More To Do With Taste Than You’d Think

Six weeks after I came down with the virus, my sense of taste came back. But for the two weeks following, I still couldn’t smell anything, which ultimately diminished the flavor of food. I recently read an article about the difference between drinking out of a can versus plastic versus glass. Some people report that they taste metal when drinking out of cans. This article suggests that it is in fact the smell of metal that they are picking up, not the taste.

Smell, like mouthfeel, ultimately led me to think about what exactly is a “balanced” food or drink. At this point, I feel that when we say something is balanced, it means the flavors hit our palates in multiple areas of the mouth, as well as the nose. I found this was easily exemplified through drinks, as liquid disperses itself naturally throughout the mouth, no chewing required. In fact, bartenders note that using garnishes like herbs, fruit, bitters and finishing sprays on the tops of drinks enhances the sensory experience through smell, before one even tastes the drink.

Our sense of smell highly influences our taste and is often our first introduction into food, too. (Consider a freshly baked tray of cookies, onions sizzling in oil to start a tomato sauce, or an herb-roasted chicken coming out of the oven—don’t you think of their scents first?) It’s because we use more than our mouths when we taste; neuroscientist Dana Small observed that, “to our brains, ‘taste’ is actually a fusion of a food’s taste, smell, and touch into a single sensation.” As someone constantly working with food, I used to be so solely focused on taste, thinking that smell was merely a byproduct of cooking. I’ll never take it for granted again.

Truthfully, it is an odd time to write this. I’m no longer sick, but the world is beginning the second summer with COVID-19 still very present—though I feel optimistic about the future. As vaccination rates climb, I hope the spread of the virus will decrease and eventually dry up entirely. Still, learning how to enjoy food without a sense of smell or taste (due to COVID, or other complications) is possible—I do hope that these tips can help us strive to eat and make more fully balanced meals that satisfy all of the senses.

For many people, food is more than just sustenance; it’s something to be savored. Important and celebratory occasions often center around food or the act of sharing a meal between people. We usually take our sense of taste for granted, but what happens if you’re unable to taste what you’re eating? Some people are born with taste disorders, while some develop them. Find out what causes a loss of taste and what treatment is available to you.

What Causes a Loss of Taste?

Recently, if you’ve heard about people losing their sense of taste, it’s most likely related to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the new loss of taste and smell as a symptom of COVID-19. If you’re experiencing a sudden loss of taste alongside other COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

That said, many other factors can cause a loss of taste, like cigarette smoking and increased age. Did you know that most people have about 10,000 taste buds? According to MedlinePlus, this number decreases as you age, and each taste bud that remains also begins to shrink. Sensitivity to the five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami) typically declines after age 60. You might also experience dry mouth because your mouth produces less saliva as you age. Dry mouth can also affect your sense of taste.

Most people develop taste disorders after illness or injury, although some people are born with them. Common reasons for a loss of taste include the following:

  • Dental problems or poor oral hygiene
  • Flu and the common cold
  • Strep throat and pharyngitis
  • Salivary gland and nasal infections
  • Middle ear and upper respiratory infections
  • Head injuries
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or medications
  • Radiation therapy to treat cancers of the head and neck
  • Wisdom tooth extractions
  • Some surgeries to the ear, nose, and throat (such a middle ear surgery)

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has found that most people who think they have a taste disorder might actually have a problem with smell. Chewing food releases aromas that activate your sense of smell by way of a channel that links the roof of your throat to your nose. If this channel is blocked, odors can’t reach your nose, resulting in foods tasting bland or feeling like there’s no taste in your mouth.

Loss of Taste Treatment

Since there are so many different things that can cause a loss of taste, it’s helpful to determine the cause before receiving treatment. As loss of taste could indicate a health problem, there’s even more reason to figure out its cause before jumping to a treatment plan. That’s where an otolaryngologist (also called an ENT) comes into play. They will assess your taste loss with a physical examination of your ears, nose, throat, a dental examination, and a taste test.

If the loss of taste is connected to an illness, such as a respiratory infection, you should regain your sense of taste once the condition is resolved. If a particular medication is the cause, your doctor may recommend that you switch that medication to something else.

If you’ve lost your sense of taste, you can do the following to make food taste better:

  • Prepare foods that have a variety of textures or colors.
  • Avoid combination foods, like casseroles, that don’t highlight individual flavors.
  • Use spices or aromatic herbs, but don’t add more sugar or salt to your food.

Improving and maintaining good oral care is another vital thing you can do to treat taste loss. Schedule regular cleanings with your dentist or dental hygienist and adopt a good oral care routine. This should include brushing your teeth twice a day and cleaning between your teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner.

It’s normal to feel concerned that you feel like there’s no taste in your mouth when eating something. Food adds much enrichment to our lives, so it can be unsettling if you’re suddenly experiencing taste loss. If you’ve lost your sense of taste, it’s important to find out what’s causing it. And whether or not you regain your taste sensations, don’t forget that you can still find ways to enjoy savor food!

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