Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taste revisited

Awhile back, I posted about how taste can be impacted with recovery. This is to say that anedoctally, taste seems to come back when you are in recovery as opposed to when you are actively in your ED.

The other day, I was listening to a fascinating podcast by All in the Mind about Taste. For instance, did you know that we are all actually born liking sweet and hating bitter? As Linda Bartoshuk, director of Human Research at the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Florida, says:
You love high fat, high sweet, high salt we all do, we're born loving that. Those are incredible survival tactics -- that gives you calorie sugar, gives your brain salt an important macro-mineral for brain and muscle function..
But of course as time gos by, we learn other tastes like bitter and sour. We learn to smell which invariably affects our tastes. And then, there is the culture and emotional components that affect our tastes.

During the show, Linda talked about supertasters. So what are supertasters? They are people who have more taste buds or fungiform paillae. These people experience double the intensity as other people in regards to taste and are more sensitive to pain on their tongues. These people also have difficulty with the taste of bitter.

What does this have to do with eating disorders? Well, it got me thinking. What if you were actually a supertaster prior to your ED. Then, your ED suppressed your taste buds since your brain made food non-rewarding, and you could simply no longer recognize taste. There was a study about how taste is different for those with anorexia which provided evidence of the difference between those with AN and those who did not. Yes, this study was done with recovered anorexics. However, it still makes me wonder whether taste can fully come back in recovery--not necessarily as the rewarding factor per se but the intensity/sensitivity factor.

Does taste seem more intense in recovery? Are foods you once thought of as sweet not so sweet or sweeter? Are foods that were once sour more or less so? And how about the taste of salt, fat, and bitter?

Maybe, this would be a good experiment in a bit of intuitive eating which is partly about slowing down, eating the food and asking yourself how it tastes among other things.

1 comment:

Missy said...

You have my mind gears grinding....never thought about this before.
I often feel like my ED destroys my taste buds. If I am restricting heavily my food gets weirs. All my body wants is salt so I will use ridiculous amounts of mustard....I crave really REALLY spicy food. Like tear-inducing. And also food in any form just tastes good..because we are so hungry! When I am not restricting, that big bowl of vegetable broth and celery may not be that good.