A dietitians guide to nourishing yourself when you can't taste or smell


Recently, I finished reading a book published a few years ago that said that, out of all of our senses, most people would prefer to lose their sense of smell. I came away with a feeling that that wouldn't be the general consensus nowadays...

We can thank our sense of taste and of smell for allowing us to experience the delish flavour of food. And we can also thank covid for helping us realise how much it contributes to the joy that food brings. When I had covid, I lost both senses for a period of time.

Once these senses were gone, my appetite and interest in food rapidly declined because, what happiness is there in eating food if you can’t enjoy the flavour? I didn’t feel hungry, but I knew I needed to eat for many reasons; one of those being to help my body fight off a virus – can you even begin to imagine how much energy this must require?!

Luckily, being a dietitian, I was well equipped to find a solution to my moral dilemma. If you’re in the same boat now or know someone who is, I hope this blog post helps to shed some light on how to keep up your food intake if you aren’t feeling great, have a low appetite and/or have lost your taste/smell because of covid.

🥛Maximise every mouthful: In the case that you may not feel up to eating usual amounts of food, boost the nutritional value of food you’re eating with foods high in energy, protein and micronutrients like avocado, peanut butter, butter, olive oil, full fat milk and yoghurt.

🍵Not fussed about texture: Smoothies, juices and soups were on high rotation for me. An easy-ish way to get energy and protein but also fruit and veg! Adding coconut milk to soups, full fat dairy in smoothies and drinking green juice on the reg are some things I did.

🧀Small frequent meals: When you’re not hungry, the routine of eating 3 meals a day gets thrown out the window. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is key to making sure you’re getting enough energy and nutrients. A couple of my favourites were cheese and crackers, smoothies and peanut butter & apple slices.

💧Hydration: Staying hydrated is important when your body is fighting an infection, especially when respiratory symptoms are present. I swapped between tea, water, and juices - strangely enough I came to find comfort in the different temperatures of drinks, another sense we may take for granted!

To test my taste and smell, I made something spicy (which I couldn’t taste) and tried a very strong-smelling cheese (which I could taste). Unfortunately, burnt oranges won’t help bring your senses back (I tried!). Time, rest, staying hydrated and nourishing your body will 🥰

Written by Charlotte Murray, and Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).