Many people infected with COVID-19 have lost their smell and taste. Although reports are suggesting that most people will regain their sense of taste and smell after COVID-19, some people may have to wait longer than others for these senses to return.  

What are COVID-19 Long-Haulers?

COVID-19 long haulers are people experiencing post-COVID syndrome. These people are not positive for COVID-19 but still experience lingering symptoms of COVID-19 including the lost of taste and smell.

Why Are Senses So Important for Our Nutrition?

Our five senses help us connect with the world around us. Losing not one, but two of our senses can have a profound impact on our perception of our surroundings (that’s 40% of our sensory input). In particular, how we interact with food.

Both taste and smell are involved with our perception and enjoyment of food. Without these senses we usually lose interest in food and our appetite because it has no taste (or tastes bad) and eating becomes more of a necessity than something we enjoy.Most of us have experienced this at one point or another thanks to a cold or flu. 

Without our appetite, we tend to consume less nutrients and calories than we normally would. Studies have shown that loss of our taste and smell leads to a significant decrease in nutrients and calories, you can read more about it here.

The catch is, we need nutrients and calories to fight infections and keep us functioning as best as we can.

Nutrition for COVID-19 Long-Haulers 

Cooking for Long Haul COVID-19

When battling with the symptoms of COVID, whether or not you’re a COVID long haulers, it is not uncommon for people to eat less due to their decreased appetite. But, while your sense of smell and taste can come back, there are some changes you can make to make food more enjoyable! Some ways to boost your nutrient intake when struggling with the lingering effects of COVID-19 include, 

    • Spicing it up
      • Although you may not be able to taste all the flavours you normally taste, there are still some flavours which you’re still able to taste such as, salt, sugar, lemon juice and bitterness of coffee. Additionally, we can make use of other senses such as texture to make our foods more interesting. Incorporating extra spices or new textures into your cooking can make foods more appealing, encourage your appetite and increase your food intake. 
    • Prioritizing energy- and nutrient-dense foods
      • Even without our sense of taste or smell, it is still important to consume enough nutrients and calories to keep support our body. Including nutrient-dense such as salmon, kale, potatoes and liver in your diet can help make sure you’re still meeting your nutrient requirements, while energy-dense foods such as avocados, mayonnaise, cheese, and nuts can help you meet your energy needs.

For some new recipes, especially developed for people who have lost their sense of taste and smell to COIVD, check out this cookbook!

Am I Eating Enough?

If you’re still struggling to get nutrients and energy in, you can consider speaking with a registered dietitian to ensure you are still meeting your nutrient requirements. A registered dietitian can help you identify possible nutrient deficiencies and provide recommendations for supplements or nutrient-rich foods. 

Beneficial Supplements 

Many studies have shown that select supplements can reduce our risk and severity of colds. It is thought that many of these supplements may have similar benefits with COVID-19. Although it may take a few years to have a consensus on whether any supplements can reduce the length or risk of COVID-19, there are some positive preliminary results. Supplements that may be useful in COVID-19 include,

    • Vitamin C 
    • Vitamin D 
    • Zinc 
    • Probiotics

Keep in mind that the research on the effectiveness of these supplements on reducing the length and severity of COVID-19 symptoms is still ongoing. For more information on the supplements for COVID-19 recovery check out the National Health Institute’s page.


Take Away 

Losing our sense of taste or smell can have an impact on our appetite and food intake. In the short-term this isn’t a huge issue, but in the long-term decreased nutrient and energy intakes can have an impact on our overall health. Working with a Registered Dietitian can help ensure you are meeting your body’s nutrient and energy requirements. I can help you understand what nutrients may be missing and help you fill in the gaps with delicious recipes that can bring back your appetite. Book a FREE discovery call today to get started!