When the Taste and Smell of Food Changes

It won't be long before a lot of people sit down to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. Think about it. Turkey or ham cooking in the oven for hours. The smell of freshly baked dinner rolls. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Sweet potatoes topped with browned-to-perfection marshmallows. Spiced cider. And all the other fixings you enjoy.

Sounds pretty good, right?

A lot of older people look forward to a meal like this. It's a great time to enjoy the company of family and friends. But what if you sit down to eat, don't recognize any familiar smells, and when you take a bite it tastes bland and boring?

It happens. Your sense of taste and smell can dull as you age. In some cases, a decrease in taste and smell can be temporary. For example, a cold or flu, allergies, medications, and some forms of cancer treatment can have an impact on your sense of taste and smell.

However, changes in taste and smell can be more permanent after a head injury, and may be an indicator for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.

If you notice a sudden or gradual dulling of taste and smell, talk to your doctor. Making changes to your medication or adjusting your treatment plan can help.

But if your sense of taste and smell doesn't return to what it once was, then what? You might lose interest in eating, but that's a risk factor for malnutrition, especially when you're older. Don't skip meals just because food doesn't taste or smell as good as it used to


Instead, the National Institutes of Health recommends, "try eating brightly colored vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes." You can also season food with butter, olive oil, cheese, nuts, herbs and spices to bring out the flavors in food. And if that's not enough, try hot mustard, peppers, or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to add flavor to your meal.

If you need help coming up with meals that look good, taste great, and smell delicious, let us do all the work. Just check out the selection of Senior-Friendly meals, all made from fresh ingredients and ready in minutes in the microwave.