A New Perspective for Eating

It has been just shy of eighteen months since my accident, falling twenty feet and obtaining a traumatic brain injurty (TBI) along with anosmia. I hate to admit it, but life in general has become bland. It is ironic how my life was seemingly more flavorful when I could taste and sense flavor versus not being able to smell and having flavors removed from my eating.

 

I have been in and out of searching for answers for myself along with all my fellow anosmics. I feel their pain, whether anosmia is a result of an accident or whether it has been a part of life since birth.

 

Within my search, I have talked to friends, family, chefs, counselors, etc. I have learned smell is the sense linked to emotion and memory the most. To not have that is saddening and filled with much loss. So the question is what do we do about it regarding eating  with the loss of both smell and no flavors? My sister-in-law told me that if I am eating a certain food, remember what it was. Tie the memories and emotions into the food. After all, eating is both bland to the palate and to the emotions, whereas to most eating touches the heart and gives satisfaction to the tongue while filling the stomach.

 

I decided to do this. Before my accident, my husband and I would eat at various restaurants and we had come to order desserts on occasion that often were chocolate with amaretto drizzled on the dessert. Yesterday, I requested this be ordered with our Valentine dinner. Part of me was disappointed.. disappointed because I already knew it would not be the same. The other part kept telling myself to remember.. remember the dinner.. remember the romance.. remember how wonderful it was to eat this dessert together with my husband. The result is it was less bland than it would have been. If I had not tied this memory into what I was eating, it would have been full of grief, sadness, and loss. It would scream everything I had and how it is likely to never return.

 

I know not all anosmics are that way from accidents but from birth instead. However, all of us with cognitive skills and abilities have memories of love and bonds. Most of us have our sense of touch, sight, and hearing. Due to this, even for congenital anosmics, this is still a viable way to eat and make at least some foods more amiable and pleasant… to remember and rexperience the love and bonds we have with our family and friends while eating can help. It may not give our mouths flavor; however, it can minister to our hearts. Thank you, Linda, for your insight. I am glad you mentioned this idea, and I am proud to say it is better to eat this way even if on rare occasion than everything being a fight to eat.

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6 thoughts on “A New Perspective for Eating

    • Thank you for your input. My goal is to offer education and support to both anosmics as well as the fields that relate to it: i.e. the medical and culinary fields. Any insight or ideas of other things to address are much appreciated.

      Thanks again with warm regards,
      Abi Begin

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  1. My daughter is a congenital anosmic and she has no problems with eating, although she had quite a few as an infant. Eating is as pleasurable for her as it was for you before you so tragically lost your sense of smell. (Although she has a very mild form of a condition that, before imaging, was sometimes diagnosed by anosmia, doctors can find no reason for her not to be able to smell, as all the physical apparatus is intact. It must be neurological.) People who never have been able to smell have a much more highly refined sense of taste than the rest of us who’ve relied on our noses since day one to augment our tongues.

    Wishing you the best of luck as you find your way back to enjoying eating again.

    Susan

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    • I have conversed with congenital anosmics who have very little to no appreciation for eating. I have never loved eating; however, there were a few foods that I did enjoy from time to time. Lucily your daughter has no trouble with this. Anosmic felines become anorexic and perish. This is a concern beyond humans! I have more passion to learn food combinations for others like me than I would if I were the only case. I have learned that around 5% of the population are anosmic, only many never talk about it. There are many causes as well. Yes, good chance that your daughter’s olfactory nerve is damaged or dead. Mine is dead. This is seen through an MRI with contrast.

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  2. I have become anosmic 3 years ago because of a bike accident. I am a very active and fit guy in my 40’s, and an avid explorer of places and cultures. I did not realize until I became anosmic that I am a person who is “into” smell and taste more than the regular guy. For example, I have at least 20 bottles of cologne I collected through the years. We have incense and candles around the house we bought as souvenirs from our travels. And I always tried the local cuisine even with the fear of getting an upset stomach. I have an extensive wine collection (still). Etc. You get the picture. Actually what I’m trying to point out is that the “blandness” of life after being rendered anosmic it not just because of food. I have read a lot in forums and books re anosmic and food. Always food. But for me the most devastating was the loss of the enjoyment of sex, and it seems that nobody talks about it because of it being too personal and intimate. I sorely miss the taste and smell of sex, of my wife’s odor. Just like in eating, now things have become mechanical, and the desire and passion have been extinguish. My wife keeps telling me that I should be happy that I’m still alive and perfectly mobile, fit and active even after the accident. I keep telling myself about those too. But I miss the human “connection” that only the smell and taste can make possible… Yes, in that sense, I feel isolated and disconnected.

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    • I miss the smell of my husband’s pillow and his cologne. I wish I could smell gunpowder again. Talk of flavors and fragrances of flowers is very difficult. However, I have learned that cutting myself away from this only is more debillitating than to face it and permit others to still appreciate it. Thus my stance on this topic. I am sorry for your loss regarding intimacy. I have read that this is common. You are not alone.

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