Eating and enjoying delicious food is one of the greatest pleasures in our life. But many people who start smoking experience a change to their sense of taste and often complain that food does not taste as good as before, or that they lost the ability to properly perceive the taste of a particular food.
This condition, medically known as dysgeusia or a taste disorder, is caused mainly by nicotine and tar – two harmful substances contained in tobacco, which damage your taste buds, the tiny structures in your mouth involved in detecting flavors.
Another typical symptom experienced by almost all smokers is a dulled sense of smell. That explains why smokers feel comfortable in places where the air is filled with tobacco smoke, while non-smokers can hardly endure staying in such places. Smokers very often do not realize that their body or clothing reek of tobacco smoke, unless someone tells them.
Actually, your ability to appreciate the good taste of food depends not only on our sense of taste, but also on other senses – smell, sight and hearing. Out of the five senses, the most important are the sense of taste and smell. So, if you are a current smoker and have a disorder of either taste or smell, you obviously cannot relish your food to the max, nor can you recognize the subtle changes in the taste of food. That is why chefs and professionals working in the food industry should be non-smokers and why smoking is prohibited in all first-rate restaurants that promise to deliver food of top quality and taste.
Think about how high price you pay for your habit: as a smoker, you deprive yourself of a great joy in life – relishing delicious food.
Smoking does not affect only your ability to sense the taste of food, but it has a serious influence on your capability to recognize various tastes correctly, such as the bitter taste of coffee. A dulled ability to perceive bitterness can signify decreased ability to avoid toxic substances. On the other hand, successful quitters report changes in their perception of taste of particular food – some people start disliking the dishes or foods they used to be fond of.
Knowing all this may make you worried about whether your damaged senses will ever come back to normal.
The answer is yes: they will regenerate gradually after you quit smoking. After a relatively short time, nicotine will be metabolized and removed from your body. At the same time, your neurotransmission will return to normal and your five senses will be revived. Your damaged taste buds will recover relatively quickly and your ability to relish delicious food will be among the greatest rewards you will get for your efforts in quitting smoking.
Still, you should be careful about several things.
- Smokers tend to lack zinc, so try to increase your zinc intake in your diet, as a zinc deficiency is one of the causes that triggers taste disorders. You can get zinc in the form of supplements, but a lot of zinc is contained also in beef and oysters.
- Once your sense of taste is recovered, you should carefully watch your caloric intake, not to overeat. It is highly recommended to get involved in some sports activity, in order to avoid unwanted weight gain after smoking.
- Don’t skip your meals and try to eat regularly, to avoid the sudden cravings for a cigarette that can attack when you feel too hungry.
- Always keep some healthy snacks or emergency food on hand to help you fight the urge to smoke. While you are attempting to quit, it is recommended you take at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- When eating, try to avoid bars and other places where smoking is not prohibited. You can enjoy your food with non-smoking friends and family members.
Once your senses are revived, you will be able to taste and smell food in a completely new way, so quitting smoking will not only improve your health, it will make your life more enjoyable and happier.