After bariatric surgery, it is possible that you will experience a change in the way food tastes. Taste changes usually happen immediately after surgery and can lessen or disappear over time.
What is the reason for these taste changes?
We don’t exactly know what causes taste changes after surgery. Many experts put it down to the change of hormones in the gut after surgery. When a portion of the stomach is removed, the level of gut hormones is also affected, and this is likely to have an impact on our taste, smell and appetite.
A study in 2014 in the UK surveyed 103 weight loss surgery patients between the years of 2000 and 2011. 73% of patients reported a change in their taste of food and 42% reported a change in the way food smelt. 73% of patients reported a strong dislike of foods after surgery with meat and meat products being the most commonly disliked food group.
Is there anything I can do to help taste changes?
Don’t be afraid to try new combinations or foods that you may not have tried before, or those that you disliked before. It is not uncommon to enjoy foods that you once disliked after surgery. Also get creative with your cooking methods. Use different herbs, spices, vinegars, marinades, cooking methods e.g. baking instead of stewing or poaching instead of frying.
Sometimes these taste changes can be viewed as a positive thing, especially if you were someone that was a sweet tooth or couldn’t say no to a salty snack. However, it is important to remember a few key nutrition based tips around taste changes.
- Now is the time to start learning what sorts of foods will provide you with your daily protein needs. If you were someone who relied on meat and meat products for protein before surgery and now cannot. If you do have aversions to particular foods, especially foods containing a high protein content e.g. meat and meat products, it is important that you are aware of how to get your daily protein (minimum 60g for a sleeve gastrectomy and 80g for all other surgeries) in through other foods in your diet.
- Remember, these hormones do come back and at 6 years after surgery, a study showed that patients were consuming 87% of a normal calorie intake for the day. This means your taste changes may not last forever. It is important to work with your dietitian about setting healthy eating habits early and understanding what your trigger foods may be so that you are prepared for long term success.