During our lifetime, our taste buds change many times. Children have a maturing pallet yet are drawn to sweet tastes, so vegetables can be a challenge to get children to eat. How many times have you heard – or even said yourself – ‘it’s an acquired taste’. As our pallet matures, our love for a variety of foods and flavours also expands allowing us to enjoy an extensive cuisine. Unfortunately, there are many things that can affect our sense of taste making it challenging to maintain a healthy diet.
Medications, cancer treatments, diseases, aging, accidents, are a few items that can alter how we taste, however not so much the texture we are expecting. People struggle with how they remember something tasting – to now having an altered flavour, perhaps finding it revolting. We often hear about items now having a metallic taste, no flavour or bland. Seniors find this happening because of aging taste buds.
Many seniors are drawn to wanting to consume sweets or salty foods. For many this is the last of the taste buds allowing for distinguished flavour. Remember our children…. How they are drawn to the sweets and salty foods. This presents challenges to offer seniors a properly balanced diet, when they gravitate towards sweet and salty items to satisfy their pallet. Even more challenging if diet restrictions limit the salt and sugar consumptions.
Family and care providers need to remind ourselves of the changes that occur with how food tastes for many reasons, this allows us better to assist and accept the food choices made by those affected by a changing pallet. We know for various health reasons sugar and salt needs to be limited, yet perhaps at some point we need to ‘turn a blind eye’ to the need for these foods, as its perhaps is one of the few pleasures someone may have with food.