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Inactive tastebuds: am I the only one?



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Quite by accident, I discovered about 8 years ago, that my ability to perceive flavour is different than most folks. See, I don’t taste anything UNTIL it is swallowed. In early 2010, I engaged my favourite deli clerk, who moonlighted as a weekend personal chef and like me, was a bit zaftig, in conversation about an article I’d read recently. It was regarding sneaky ways that more calories get consumed than we realise. One of the ways this happens is sampling food while we are cooking, so that we can tweek flavour, doneness, texture, etc. He asserted, in agreement with the article, that we can easily—and, subconsciously—consume an entire meal’s worth of calories before we even sit down, and that many SKINNY chefs sample and spit to avoid the caloric intake.

I went home and tried his suggestion that same night. I don’t recall what I was making. It was a cream sauce of some kind . For a Pasta dish. I recall putting my clean teaspoon into the pan, withdrawing the sauce, putting it in my mouth, sloshing it around a bit and TASTING nothing. I swallowed intentionally, although I hadn’t planned on it. Ahhh, I remember thinking.

That’s good. It’s ready.

Wait. What? I did not taste a thing until I swallowed it , so how could those chefs perceive how to fine tune their creations if they spit out what they sampled from their spoons?

It was then when the realisation occurred to me that I MIGHT be different. I started thinking about my foodie BFF who was always talking about anticipating the tasting of this or that, and would chew her food with near orgasmic pleasure. Being a “live, and let live” personality, I never gave it much thought, because when I ate, I had one thing in mind: to stop the hungries. To assuage that grumbling and rumbling that happens when it is two in the afternoon, and you realise you’ve not eaten yet today.

Which brings me to another thing: once I start eating, I never feel full. If I eat Breakfast, I’m hungry all day long. If I wait until the hunger pangs set in, typically around two, I’m in pain.

I start off every day awakening automatically around 5 am. I’ll have my morning Earl Grey, then proceed to fill my vintage pastel tupperware Handoliers with filtered Water from the kitchen tap, and start sipping. By the end of the morning, I will have downed one to one and a half. I’m obsessed with hydration the way some folks chain smoke.

Oh, I’ve tried the HcG diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem. Their “sample sizes” left me ready to chew my arm off I was so hungry. Sure, one can lose weight by smaller portions and increased activity, but when your stomach is churning with pangs that make it hard to concentrate on real life, the distraction destines one to abandon the meal plan for some relief from the knife stabbing like pain.

My mother was a horrible cook, as was her mother. I’ve never equated food with love, or long for a favourite food from childhood. There isn’t one. I’ve never felt compelled to eat when lonely, bored, heartbroken or depressed. Those emotions always sent me to the mall for a little retail therapy. Besides the compulsion to drink water (which is actually a good thing, provided it isn’t with food), my true addiction is spending money. It doesn’t have to be much. I find paying for things, even bills, inordinately satisfying, especially when stressed.

So, Here I am, with my 43 BMI, hoping to get a smaller stomach and relief from churning, constant hunger. I hope it works.

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Congrats on starting your journey!

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Thank you.

I appreciate your kind words.

I feel a bit of an outsider looking in when it comes to this site.

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Posted (edited)

No, you're not the only one.

There's a pretty good explanation, too.

I did a little research:

Researchers at the University Hospitals of Leicester looked at the relationship between taste, smell, and appetite among 103 patients who’d undergone gastric bypass surgery between 2000 and 2011. Nearly half of the patients polled reported their sense of smell changed following weight loss surgery and 73 percent noticed changes in the way food tasted. Topping the list for patients experiencing taste changes is increased sensitivity to sweet foods and sour foods.

Reduced tolerance and cravings for sweets and fast foods are common changes are reported by many patients. Some patients may become so sensitized that even Protein Shakes and powders taste overly sweet and are difficult to tolerate. (Some tips that may help include thoroughly chilling the Protein shakes to improve taste.)

food aversions usually develop immediately following surgery and may lessen or disappear over time. In studies, animal Proteins top this list with patients steering clear of chicken, steak, ground beef, lamb and cured meats like bacon, sausage, and ham. eggs, dairy products including ice cream, cheese and milk and starches such as rice, Pasta or bread also ranked high on the list of disliked foods. Interestingly, very few patients reported aversions to fruits or vegetables. Some patients even report loving veggies like broccoli or cauliflower even more.

Patients may feel turned off to foods for a variety of reasons including smell, appearance, texture or consistency. Sometimes a change in preparation method can help improve tolerance. Simple adjustments like stewing meat instead of baking or grilling and poaching eggs instead of frying may prevent the often-reported feeling of food “sticking” on the way down.

While the exact cause is unknown, many experts believe sensory changes occur as a result of fluctuating hormones in the gut and their effects on the central nervous system. This gut-brain axis as it’s known and its relationship to bariatric surgery is a subject of much research and speculation. In a nutshell, the nervous system relays countless transmissions about your hunger, satiety, and cravings each day between your GI tract and your brain. Because the carriers of these messages are affected by changes in weight and the removal of a portion of the stomach, it is highly likely they have an impact on taste, smell, gratification and other sensory perceptions.

Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that are known to have a prominent role in the relationship between hunger and satiety. Ghrelin also plays a role in determining how much of what we eat is burned for fuel versus stored as fat. Weight loss alone results in an increase in ghrelin, which explains why we tend to feel hungry as soon as we restrict calories and begin to shed pounds. Surgically induced weight loss, however, in which a portion of the stomach is removed or bypassed, reduces the production of ghrelin while restricting the volume of food consumed. This unique combination explains, at least in part, why bariatric patients are able to eat less but not feel hungrier as a result.

Leptin also plays an important role in telling your body when you are full and how calories are stored. It is believed that weight loss improves the body’s sensitivity to the messages leptin delivers to the gut and brain. This, in turn, may result in greater food satisfaction with smaller quantities and less flavor intensity.

Edited by Missouri-Lee's Summit

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A great deal of care and effort went into your reply. And, that’s all fine and good, but hardly applicable to my post. I’m guessing that a quick glance at my header prompted your reply, without having read what I’d written.

I’m awaiting approval from my insurance company.

I’ve not yet been assigned a date for my gastric sleeve surgery.

Hopefully, there’ll be some post-surgical patients to whom that information applies will find it useful.

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