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Help - this Chowhound has no taste!

I had a nasty bug this week and I've lost 12 pounds... and my appetite is non-existant, and my tastebuds are on the fritz. Everything tastes and smells super-strong to me, so I'm done after one bite, if I can even stomach that. I spent the week living on icepops, gatorade, and flat soda, all of which tasted nasty but are necessary evils of illness. About the only thing I've tried so far that tastes GOOD is Vitamin Water. And I just had part of a tomato and it was delicious, if remarkably strong. What could I maybe eat???

To make things more fun, DH got diagnosed with diabetes yesterday, so we have to totally reshape our eating habits for THAT, and it just seems easier for me not to eat at all...

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  1. First of all WOW, what a mess. I'm sure all our hearts reach out to you. In all probability your taste buds will return, and if they don't I'm sure you will talk to your doctor. I would look at diet recommendations for people on chemotherapy, a common cause of taste deprivation, although that appears to be the opposite of what you are experiencing. Try focusing on texture as much as on flavor, and get your interest and variety from that perspective. Not sure where you are or what is locally available, but here Miso soup is a common prescription for people who are having taste issues. Best of luck to both of you.

    1. plain rice gruel? Cook white rice with plenty of water. Make it thin so you can slurp it like soup. Add a pinch of salt just to get your electrolytes and to keep you hydrated but not enough to season since you are currently hyper-sensitive.

      1. First, I say let DH worry about his diabetes until you are on the mend. Time to deal with that when you are back 100%. Now, you only have to worry about getting your strength back. Your tastebuds should return soon. If you think your stomach can handle it, how about some tomato juice since you say a tomato tasted good. Have you ever tasted the broth after you've cooked some barley? To me it is very hearty and has a good mouth feel. You might want to try that. There's always chicken soup and potato soup. If you're not up to cooking it yourself, maybe buy some ready-made. Fresh Market sells some soups at their deli counter. I know Chick Filet has chicken soup and I think Panera Bread has some soups. I've not tried any of them but have been tempted. The other day I bought some Italian Wedding Soup at Sam's Club. It was quite bland, but not too bad after I added garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley. Hope you feel much better soon!

        3 Replies
        1. re: MrsJonesey

          Thanks! I was a little premature in my desire to eat. I thought I 'should', but my body knew it was still a couple of days too early. I had toast with honey last night, and now I'm back on 'real food'. Homemade chicken and barley soup with carrots and baby peas. Mmmmm it was good for both of us. I'm stuffed now! I was feeling well enough to cook it, and more importantly, well enough for it to be appealing and to taste great.

          Now I have to learn to cook for a diabetic...

          1. re: Kajikit

            Glad to hear you're feeling better. Your soup sounds very good. Good luck in learning to cook for a diabetic.

            1. re: Kajikit

              I had to do the same thing, Kajikit. First though, let me say I'm very glad you're feeling better. That's a long time to be down, for sure.
              The American diabetes ass'n. has a few great free pamphlets/cookbooks that can help you out. There are TONS of cookbooks out there on cooking for a diabetic. What worked for us was kind of formulaic: whole-grain cereal w/ skim milk, scrambled eggs with lots of veggies and a bit of cheese, rolled in a wheat tortilla......that was breakfast, with variations on the theme. Lunches: anything unprocessed, meatwise, again on whole grain or sourdough (the only white bread that's really okay for a diabetic), tuna or egg salad with easy mayo and again, tons of veggies. Keeping a pot of chicken-rice or vegetable soup around was really helpful, and so was keeping a covered container of prechopped veg. for snacks. Other well-received dishes: wheat pasta with garlic, oil and parmesan: sauteed greens w/ poached eggs atop, really ANY pasta dish, again with the wheat pasta. Dinners were anything that was planned, with the substitution of brown rice for white and frequently sweet potatoes instead of white 'taters - I found out how very good a baked sweet potato can be.
              It can be done fairly easily, with a few subs regarding the foods with a high glycemic index. Once you've learned "the rules" it gets a whole lot easier. Best to you and DH.

          2. Oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar mixed in.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Steve

              that's exactly what i was going to suggest... oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon or dried fruit. dried fruit tends to have a little less flavor than fresh, and higher in calories for its volume.

            2. Personally, when I'm that ill, my "favorite food" is Ensure. A couple years back I was incredibly sick and couldn't keep anything down for over a month. I literally lived on Ensure. The chocolate flavor wasn't great, but it was good enough to satisfy. Just don't touch the strawberry stuff. Awful.

              When I started feeling better, I kept up with my nutritional requirements by sipping Ensure, but started making real food in very small portions to re-acclimate myself to eating. Being sick is awful, hope you are feeling better.

              1. I had wicked bad food poisoning a few weeks ago, and had to go a few days without food and only occasional sips of water. Finally I was able to wean myself onto apple juice (the first sip was like a godsend!) and then after a few more days I had my "food-legs" back. Glad to hear you are on the mend!

                1. Ah, welcome to my world. I am battling head and neck cancer. From some time in December through the end of March, I ate no solid foods. Radiation treatment took away my taste buds which are just now coming back. I can barely produce any saliva, and I have lost 60 pounds through it all.

                  What people don't realize is that when you don't want to eat, you don't really get hungry.I was able to consume only a couple hundred calories a day, for extended periods and I never once was hungry. I had no energy and lost a ton of muscle, but hunger was never an issue.

                  So to get past that, you have to force yourself to eat and drink. Proper hydration is as least as important as proper nutrition. I ended up getting a feeding tube, which you may want to do if this is going to be an extended issue for you. The tube goes through my mid torso into the stomach and intestines, so I bypassed all the issues with my mouth from treatment and was able to directly ingest the 1,500- 2,000 calories a day I needed.

                  If that is not an option, or in the mean time, I would suggest protein shakes and soups. I would drink Ensure, but another product that was recommended to me was Orgain. I liked it better because it was thinner, so it was more like a drink and less like a shake. If you found that you liked the tomato, make yourself cream of tomato soup. Experiment with other veggies to see what is palatable. Try making smoothies. Eggs are pretty bland on their own, but packed in protein. Make yourself some scrambled eggs with some very mild cheese. If you like mushrooms, add those or any other mild tasting veggie. You probably want to stay away from onions and garlic, but there is a whole garden of options.

                  Good luck and I hope you start to feel better soon.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ocshooter

                    yes, soft scrambled eggs.

                    home-made broth, with salt, to help with lost electrolytes. add avocado for potassium.

                    sugar-free gatorade was a god-send when i had a horrible stomach bug last year.

                    1. re: ocshooter

                      Sorry to hear about your troubles. My mother was diagnosed with cancer in her mouth, went through a full course of radiation, lost her sense of taste, then had an operation on her jaw which has left her unable to chew. It's a nasty cancer.

                      Mom's surgeon advised against the feeding tube so she's been drinking Boost+ which has more protein and fiber than the other liquid meals. I wish she were willing to try more things - sounds like you are pretty unlimited.

                      1. re: 512window

                        There is a high protein version of ensure as well. With the feeding tube I was mixing two products, one with 350 cal per can and other with 450. I can't imagine why they would recommend against a tube. My docs were pressing me to get it long before I gave in.

                      2. re: ocshooter

                        Thanks. I shouldn't have any long-term issues - it was just a virus and an infection at the same time... but the short-term ones are still with me! I really haven't been hungry this last week at all. It's hard to tell when you really need to eat and when you're not ready yet, when you have no appetite. So far I've had two false starts because I thought I really SHOULD be eating! The Doc advised me to stick to BRAT for a few days, we'll see how it goes. I just had some more of that soup and a banana.