People Change, Bodies Change, Minds Change, Memories Change

It has been just shy of 27 months since I obtained a traumatic brain injury. Upon my return home, I learned that I loss my sense of smell and flavor (anosmia). At the beginning of this stage, I was filled with anger, grief, and frustration. I will not lie; some of that is still there. I took pride in cooking whole foods and using recipes as suggestions regarding the herbs offering flavor. I fought eating and not eating. I won’t lie.. I still do.

However, along my journey I realized what I still have: textures and sensations in foods. Well, to be honest, the joke has still been it all tastes like chicken. When I have eaten or even prepared to eat, I have dissected the tastes (not flavors) of foods along with textures that they may offer to the point of writing about this here.

There is a new discovery. My husband has said, “What you focus on, you create.” Well, I have focused on what I still have. The result is my memories have altered. I do not remember the flavors of foods. I know to many this may sound very sad; however, that is not my goal here. I am here to offer encouragement, for the world (this condition included) is full of pain and grief. To not remember the flavor of foods is a wonderful thing, because WHAT I DO REMEMBER is textures of food and that I have appreciated even from childhood! I don’t remember the flavors of foods and the pleasure they brought. To be honest, I never really loved eating due to some early childhood experiences. There’s a song called “Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone.” Well, you don’t miss things when you don’t remember them, which is far healthier than memories of what potentially will never be again. We cannot live in the future nor the past, and the best way to live is moment by moment and appreciating what you do have instead of hoping for what was and / or may never be (again).

The most miraculous thing in this experience is I did not cognitively purposely lose my memories of foods’ flavors. The only thing I did is to live in the present and try to appreciate my new life without smell.

I used to drive into the driveway of our old house from where I fell from its balcony. I pined for how and who I was. I pined for the memories that we created in that house. I grieved that I could not go back in time. I now no longer visit that driveway and peer on all sides of the house. I am focused on living in the present. The outcome is far healthier and more beautiful than focusing on what was and will never be again.

The mind is a beautiful thing. My mind has adjusted and programmed my memories based on my willful mindset of how I am living and aim to continue living: in the present.. not in the past nor the future.

If I can do this, then you can too. I will say this was done with the intent on living in the now; however, I was not directly looking to forget flavor. It happened unbeknownst to me. I hope that you will join me and find more joy  and peace in your life as well.

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Anosmia and Artificial Flavoring

As aforementioned, I acquired anosmia versus being a congenital case. Therefore, I understand if those of you who have had aosmia your whole life either understanding or not understanding some of my posts about this condition regarding food and eating.

I have never loved food. The reasons are a whole different story. However, there are things I enjoyed before I had anosmia. There are some things about my former life that I have realized are still part of who I am and my preferences.

You would think that artificial flavoring would not affect anosmics, because we only taste from our taste buds and miss the 95% of “taste,” which is flavor. Here’s the thing. There are foods that have taste condiments, which offer more sweet, sour, salty, and occasionally bitter. Chocolate is the closest food to tasting as it was. HOWEVER, chocolate flavoring versus genuine chocolate DO NOT taste the same. I would think this is more known to us, as there is probably a way to offer the aroma of chocolate giving the one eating fulfillment, as flavor is a huge facet in eating to most.

Due to this realization of imitation chocolate flavoring, I have come to understand that artificial flavoring does matter. The point of this is that reading labels or what is written in fine print is pertinent if you are seeking to enjoy what you are eating. Furthermore, understanding that flavoring is not the same as the genuine food offering tastes is not the same. Therefore, at bare minimum understanding this can keep you from feeling disappointment that the food does not taste as you remember.

I do understand that hardly anything tastes what it did before becoming anosmic; however, understanding limitations along with having a moment of some pleasure eating is better than always being down in the mouth (pun intended).

Appealing Foods to People with Anosmia

For all of you readers who do not know what anosmia is,it is the condition of not being able to smell.If one cannot smell, we cannot sense danger that everyone else can, and 95% of taste is gone, as smelling is a valuable facet to tasting. I have more posts to educate those who have anosmia as well as those who know people like us along with help the culinary arts field, as texture is underrated; however for anosmics it is largely the highlight of any dish along with sensations (cool mint, hot salsa…)

 

Sandwiches with Coleslaw or Potato Chips. Coleslaw adds crispiness and crunch, while potato chips offer crispiness.

Croissants with Melted Chocolate or sliced almonds in an almond paste- Flaky croissants with gooey melted chocolate. Sliced almonds offer a crunch along with creaminess of almond paste.

Pineapple Uside Down Cake – The pinapple glaze offers silky moisture while the cake is moist.

Boston Creme Cake/Pie – Chocolate ganache, pudding between both cake layers. Three textures: crunchy (or gooey depending on the temperature of the cake), creamy, and spongy.

Buffalo Loaded Fries – Blue cheese offers a bitter flavor, and the buffalo sauce gives heat.

Habanero Jelly – Sweet with heat.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (like Nutella)

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream – Note: Ben Cohen and his partner began their partnership after Mr. Cohen obtained anosmia. They partnered to compensate for Mr. Cohen’s loss. Their original business was an ice cream parlor. Now we have their goods, AND MR. BEN COHEN approves each recipe. If you read the descriptions and ingredients, there is a high emphasis on texture!

This post was started on July 25, 2015; however, there have been updates as my venture continues for all anosmics.

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.

Habanero Jelly with Pomegranate Seeds for People with Anosmia

For all of you readers who do not know what anosmia is,it is the condition of not being able to smell.If one cannot smell, we cannot sense danger that everyone else can, and 95% of taste is gone, as smelling is a valuable facet to tasting. I have more posts to educate those who have anosmia as well as those who know people like us along with help the culinary arts field, as texture is underrated; however for anosmics it is largely the highlight of any dish along with sensations (cool mint, hot salsa…)

Habanero gives heat.
Jelly is sweet with a silky texture.
Pomegranate seeds are sour tasting that are crunchy with juice that gushes from the seeds.

Homemade Tapioca with Pomegranate Seeds for Those with Anosmia

For all of you readers who do not know what anosmia is,it is the condition of not being able to smell.If one cannot smell, we cannot sense danger that everyone else can, and 95% of taste is gone, as smelling is a valuable facet to tasting. I have more posts to educate those who have anosmia as well as those who know people like us along with help the culinary arts field, as texture is underrated; however for anosmics it is largely the highlight of any dish along with sensations (cool mint, hot salsa…)

Wednesday was National Tapioca Day, so I ventured and cooked and chilled my own from an altered recipe along with adding pomegranate seeds to the top of every dish served.

3 cups whole milk (I used almond milk)

1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca (I used rice flour)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together the milk, tapioca, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 5 minutes longer.

Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Stir the egg mixture back into the tapioca until well mixed. Bring the pudding to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer until the pudding becomes thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The pudding may be served hot or poured into serving dishes and refrigerated several hours until cold.

Tastes:
Sweet – Custard
Sour – Pomegranate Seeds

Textures:
Creamy – Custard
Crunchy – Pomegranate Seeds
Gush of Juice – Pomegranate Seeds

Original recipe

…along with the idea of pomegranate seeds.

Day to Day Life with Anosmia (Loss of Smell)

Losing my sense of smell has been quite a hurdle to jump. For one, I have been a wife and mother for twenty-five years.Being those have been my roles, I have been the head of cooking and cleaning. When you cannot smell, you cannot know when your child starts a load of laundry and it sits then gains mildew. You also cannot taste food but 5% of what everyone else tastes. The only thing we can taste is sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. We have sensations down our throats due to heat (through chilies), cool (through sour cream or ranch dressing), and burning (through sodas). When one defines oneself by cooking and/or cleaning or even supervising either or both those, our deficits are emphasized, and we often feel like failures. Furthermore, the joy of eating or even serving food is gone. Eating is a chore, and so is preparing and cooking foods for those we love, being we cannot agree that what we prepare is worth their time and energy.

Upon researching anosmia, I have read that we often die within five years of the event that causes our loss of smell. I believe this is largely due to lack of education. For instance, I was never told it was possible that I may find I cannot smell. Furthermore, when I asked my doctor about it, he simply stated that is the way my life will be. There was never any talk of the dangers of not being able to smell.

I have accidentally swallowed bleach thinking it was water with lemon. I have burned beans and not smelled the smoke nor had my eyes water, let alone my lungs even being affected. Not having smell is so important! My goal within at least the next few posts is to teach what should occur to live a more precautious life after it is known one cannot smell.

Sense of Smell Gone & Sense of Taste Next to Nothing. The Adventure Begins

First off, I will be dabbling with this post the most. I may wind up creating a page for each category. However, this is the first PARTIAL rough draft.

How does one learn to deal with not smelling? There is so much linked to smell…more than one imagines: memories, emotions, relationships, childhood, food, etc. When you cannot smell, you don’t get to feel relaxed when your loved one wears cologne or perfume. You will not smile inside when you are cooking your favorite dish. You cannot smell when there is mildew, must, mold, corrupted food etc. Furthermore, you could only taste one of four things: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. In essence,95% of all tastes are gone. For instance, for me, a banana, vanilla pudding, and cake all tastes the same: sweet. The End. Textures and sensations (heat from chilies, cool from ranch dressing or sour cream, etc.) are higher precedents.

This causes us to be angry and bitter (Ha-ha! Pun intended!) We often lose weight and may want our feeding tubes reinserted. I fight with that myself; however, the parent in me knows that is not healthy. Living life like I’m one of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring and going on an adventure is a far healthier and positive way of living. I have recently understood the dynamics of texture and sensations teemed with how few tastes I can have at a time. And so it goes: the beginning of a new quest. On this page, I am going to post various things when I appreciate a texture in the dish/item or the sensation. Furthermore, I will define how some things taste. You may want to know the reason. Well, even if you do not have this issue, you may learn that someone does in your life. FURTHERMORE, while talking to a friend who caters, she responded and said that the huge issues for me are still in those who can smell and taste fully. The things that to me are the highlights are still the undertones for the general public that cause a greater depth to whoever can experience smelling and eating fully.

When we are picking foods that are premade or manufactured, it is helpful to read the ingredients, as the ones listed first are the ones that dominate the food product. This gives a clue to the potential tastes, textures, and sensations.

Bitter:
Cumin, ground mustard, blue cheese

Sweet:
Bananas, Semisweet chocolate (no bitter.. only one taste), Flan, Pudding, Cake, Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce, Soda, white chocolate (sweeter than dark or milk chocolate, peanut butter (sugar is a main ingredient in most peanut butters)

Sour:
Foods with the primary ingredient of taste being vinegar (i.e. pickles, mstard), raspberries, cranberries, pomegranates, kumquats

Salty:
Chips, French fries,soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce

No Flavor, only texture at best (liquids do not provide this)

Fish, chicken, turkey, ground meat, beef (pretty much any meat without seasoning), bread, horseradish, wasabi, pasta, rice, standard coffee both caffeinated and decaffeinated, Tea, Milk (cannot even taste rotten milk), black pepper (not enough to have texture), Smoked foods and barbecued foods are dominated by smell, so smoky is not a flavor to anosmiacs.

I have a challenge to my readers: feel free to contact me through comments, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to tell me what to taste so I can conjure new combinations. I will be creating two more posts: one for sensations. The other for textures.

There is more information about people like us at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23051270

In this article, it reveals that we offer suffer depression, moreso than those who have lost sight. I know it may sound immensely insane; however, we can become accustomed to being blind. Leave the furniture the way it is. Count steps. Listen to one’s surroundings, etc.