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Sep 6, 2010 10:15 AM

Does jet-lag affect your sense of taste?

I'm asking b/c whenever I fly to and from Europe, it takes a few days for me to get the full range of flavors in the foods I eat.

I've learned to not plan on any elaborate, expensive, or subtly flavored meals in the first couple of days after a transatlantic flight, because it's totally wasted on me.

Everything I eat tastes bland, muted... like the flavors are turned down a few notches. So I either don't bother eating anything interesting, or I need to seriously crank up the spice level to 'enjoy' my meal.

Anyone else share this experience?

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  1. This is *fascinating*, linguafood! And now you've got me thinking back over the (many, many) times when I've been jet-lagged.

    Pondering it now, it seems to make sense that one's taste would be a little sluggish after a long flight, especially adding in the time change and general frenzy of travel these days.

    I do definitely crave certain foods after a long flight -- something as far from airplane food as I can get my hands on: hot, fresh, comfort-foodish. Last time I went to Australia, my first post-plane meal was a massive scallion pancake, beautiful little juicy pork dumplings, and gallons of hot tea, from a northern Chinese dumpling place in Sydney.

    I definitely don't crave spicy foods -- usually long flights and exhaustion make me a wee bit nauseous, so I'm pretty put off by strong flavors.

    Very interested to hear others' input!

    1. Most of my travel is N-S with not so many time zones. My Europe-US adjustments have been more the meal shifts, i.e. departing Europe at breakfast time and arriving in the US 7 hours later, in time for..a late breakfast.
      From the other direction, Sydney to Denver wiped me out for 2 days. But Miami- Rio, 8 hours, no problem. I think it's more the clock adjustment for me.

      1. Fortunately, no - if anything both appetite and pleasure in the food are heightened by the mild buzz I get from jet lag. Let me at that food, whether in Europe or Asia.

        1. I'd be unsure whether it was sense of taste or, simply, tiredness that's the cause - but I usually have little interest in "good food" for a couple of days. Of course, when you're flying to, say, a holiday destination you gotta make an effort to overcome that and just dive into the food as best you can. You may not get the second chance.

          1. Perhaps it is simply the overexposure to the dreadful "air" on the plane damaging your olfactory abilities and thus affecting your sense of tase. I have noticed that even relatively short flights may congest my sniffer.

            Then again, the entire air travel experience in and of itself is often enough to ruin one's appetite. I mean, "Sure, here's an extra 25 bucks so you can inadvertenly forget to send my bag to my ultimate destination. . . . "