What is going on with my Taste Buds After Bariatric Surgery?!

By Bari Life

As a bariatric surgery patient, you may notice that the foods and even the supplements that you enjoyed before your procedure don’t taste as good as they once did. If so, you’re not imagining things. A study presented during Obesity Week in 2014 conducted by Stanford University in California confirms that bariatric surgery does indeed change the taste buds.

Led by author and medical doctor John Morton, the study found a positive link between bariatric surgery and a decreased sensitivity to taste. It’s similar to the way you might think about food when you have the flu. The very thought of eating doesn’t sound pleasant at all.

Bariatric surgery affects hormones that cause people to lose their appetite. This can sound like a good thing since a lack of appetite means less eating and more weight loss. The foods that you once craved and couldn’t get enough of even when you knew they were unhealthy simply don’t taste as good as they did before surgery.

According to Dr. Morton’s theory, the taste buds of obese people are less sensitive than those with a body mass index (BMI) in normal range even before surgery. This could even contribute to the state of obesity. People with less sensitive taste buds experience pleasure from feeling satiated, which means they eat less because their pleasure comes from the taste of the food instead of the amount consumed.  The opposite is true for people who struggle with their weight.

Reactivating Your Taste Buds

Part of the counseling process after bariatric surgery involves teaching patients to focus on one bit of food at a time while eating slower and savoring the flavor. It will take some time to adjust to the hormonal changes associated with bariatric surgery, but rest assured that your body will adjust eventually. Practicing these techniques learned in counseling will help you feel pleasure from the taste of food rather than the sensation of fullness.

Your mind and body work together to let you know that you’re full. The best way to train them both is to eat slowly. This is especially important after weight loss surgery because of the decreased sensitivity of your taste buds.

It may feel frustrating to go through this training process, but it’s necessary if you want to change your relationship with food and keep the weight off for a lifetime. This is one time when patience really is a virtue.

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What are your tips and tricks to post-bariatric success?

Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below – we want to hear from you!

33 comments

  1. I find that my mouth waters at the thought of vegetables, and that makes me laugh because I NEVER ate veggies before surgery. I crave brussel sprouts now! crazy…

  2. My taste has definitely changed since my Gastric Sleeve, but certainly not for the better. Everything I eat tastes different now and the best way I can describe it is bitter or sharp. It all leaves a horrible aftertaste. Before my surgery, I had a very sensitive sense of taste and smell. Food still smells good, but doesn’t taste like it smells. Even fresh fruit tastes sharp to me now. It’s very disappointing and frustrating.

    1. I also have had this experience. I had gastric bypass August 2009 and went from 305 to 255. Sept. 2015 I had the roux-n-y and had dropped to a sustained weight of 180. In July my taste buds just switched, as if overnight. Everything taste salty, almost alkaline. I’m still experimenting but I’m having a hard time finding anything but fresh fruit and veggies.

  3. I agree with Hope. Things that tasted good/palatable pre-op now taste horrible post-op which is interfering with my drinking my needs as I can’t find anything to drink that agrees with my palate.

    1. I had the roux-en-y gastric bypass two months ago yesterday, and I’ve had the same problem, especially regarding the protein shakes that I liked before surgery. I’m simply unable to tolerate them now. Also, my reduced stomach capacity is making it impossible to get enough fluids every day, so I’m dehydrated with protein deficiency. It’s frustrating! Still trying to figure out how to get around these issues.

  4. My sense of taste has completely changed after bariatric surgery as well. And the longer it goes since the date of surgery, the worse it gets! I can’t really taste anything anymore! Nothing tastes anything! I salt and salt and salt my food and I can’t taste a thing! I can even eat superhot food, like in the spicy way.. and I can’t even feel the burning or the taste of anything like I used to if I ever ate spicy food. I pretty much live of of water, diet coke and nutri bars and smoothies. Just to survive basically. I have lost more weight than I should in such a short period, and that is contributed to not feeling any sort of enjoyment at all to food anymore. I have lost 40 kg in 5 months! Basically 4 kg more than my doctor recommended per month. My hair is falling out, I feel dizzy and my skin looks horrible. I hope it gets better for sure so I don’t loose more than I want and become unhealthy again, but in an underweight sense this time.

    1. My husband has the exact same issues. The loss of taste and the extreme weight loss in a short period is so frustrating. We have been dealing with this for almost a year. Please, if you get help, or find some relief I beg you to share it and we will do the same

      1. I have tried Olive Garden and love it
        I really enjoy my protein drinks from Sams
        I am learning what I enjoy now but has been a challenge

  5. I am experiencing the same thing. I am 86 lbs down in 7 months and cannot fathom most solid foods. Everything has a tangy ranch gone bad taste. So far the drs have contributed to ketosis and a hormone that is developed in the stomach. I have tried probiotics and they did nothing. Now, they want me to try zinc, meeting with a dentist and an ENT. I feel like they do not know what to do with me. Any suggestions would be welcoming. thanx.

    1. I have travelled the same pathway as you. My surgeon says he has not ever encountered this reaction to baratric surgery. He says all will adjust time. Meanwhile its a miserable existence. Cannot enjoy the weight loss. I find beer the most refreshing drink as it masks the bitterness. Lately I have had a beer every night….never did before. Would welcome any tips or experience of those who’ve overcome this issue.

  6. I tried to have a cup of coffee 4 weeks after my sleeve and it tasted like detergent! I loved my morning coffee!,ugg.

  7. I agree with all these people. In 2015 I had the sleeve done to cure my diabetic condition. It helped and cure that problem. 2017 I had to have the bypass don due to a hole in my esophagus & pneuma. The Dr. said I’d not lose more then 20 lbs. I’ve since lost 70 lbs. I’m grossly under weight. I find food I.general unappealing. I drink my protein shakes , I eat a lot of chicken grilled. I do love veggies. My dr now says I’m not eating food with calories. Eat ice cream , I ever was an ice cream eater now it taste terrible. He told me today I need to gain 15lbs. I don’t see this happening!

  8. I have found a change in the foods I like now. Before Surgery i would bawlk at even the smell of watermelon now I can’tget enough of it. I have found that like others food tastes different and I find I am less interested in food in general.

  9. I absolutely hate anything sweet.
    I can’t eat chinese food at all. They put sugar in everything.
    Im happiest eating my own cooking.
    I have always liked my fresh vegetables cooked soft. I just wish I have the same distaste for pasta and potatoes that I have for sweets. I’m revolted by the taste ofsweet food.

  10. I recently went under bariatric surgery from Nobesity Bariatric Surgery Center, India. Happy with their services. But yeah you mentioned in the blog recently I’m facing issue with having diet food. Do not want to eat them anymore. Is it only with me or anyone else is also feeling like same and how I can overcome and what should have in dinner and lunch. Apologized for asking too many questions.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

  11. Just had surgery couple days ago and now my taste buds has gone everything I put in my mouth taste nasty I feel hungry but don’t want anything I got my husband to get me crush ice to see what happens this sucks

  12. Same here with spicy foods. I have always loved hot sauce but prior to surgery my taste buds couldn’t handle it any longer but strange after surgery I crave it and no longer feel the hot sensation???? Certain things I use to enjoy like coffee I don’t even want anymore. I find it funny how everything has changed although it’s probablynforbthe better since most of my calories came from drinking coffee with cream and sugar.

  13. I had the surgery just shy of 7 weeks ago. I crave something and everything taste like stale crackers. I desire to drive water and it taste like something freezer burnt. I am not suppose to drink tea but that is the only thing that I can taste. Help I would love some feedback.

  14. I have the sleeve done 3 weeks ago and my taste buds have change dramatically. Everything has a horrible after taste and I’m having a really hard time meeting my daily protein goal.

  15. Hi, I had the gastric sleeve almost 5 weeks ago. Just recently I can’t tolerate anything of and sbstance in my stomach. I have gone back to soft foods completely! I can’t get anything sweet enough, as in protein shakes, oatmeal,etc. I have thrush also and I’m just sick to my stomach all the time. Things are bitter too! I loved water prior, but now I have to have everything flavored with Crystal light now. I feel like not eating anymore!! I’m so afraid I’ll get sick and won’t get enough protein now. I think I need to smoke some pot, just to make me feel hungry and I’m 64 and don’t do that stuff anymore. I regurgitate everything back up pretty much now too! HELP, ANYONE????!

  16. I had the sleeve first and then a couple years later had roux en y. I was 470lbs at my high and am now 225 and still losing. I have skin hanging everywhere. Anything sweet now has a bitter taste. I guess that’s good except I keep trying to eat sugar to find that taste again and it’s not there and that worries me because I keep trying to find that taste that sweet yummy taste. I love foods like potatoes I love potatoes fried mashed baked potatoes yummy yummy. Nothing else seems taste good.

  17. I used to love water before my Sleeve, now I drink it and it taste foul.. Which sucks trying to keep my fluids up.. I’ve dried protein waters and that’s even mixing my water with cordial and it all has a yucky after taste..

    1. I used to love drinking water. Just had the sleeve surgery 2 weeks ago. I can’t stand the water. Plus I’m on antibiotics. As a result I have a gross taste in my mouth as if I am holding old cooked meat in it and a glaze over my tongue that feels like I can scrape something off but there’s nothing there. This is bad. Of all the research I did no one mentioned any of this. They say I can eat eggs now. That’s nasty. Yogurt, not so good. I have 4-5 more days on antibiotics and I am hoping once that’s out of my system that all of this goes away.

  18. I can’t stand this change. My mind thinks the same as I used to but nothing tastes good. I
    now understand why people drink excessively after surgery. I’m miserable!!!!! My regular doctor says your stomach has nothing to do with your taste buds. Said maybe an allergy or acid reflux . has anyone else heard this?

  19. Oh I had gastric bypass Feb 2020 and now everything tastes like acid. I don’t drink the protein shakes as they now taste like a bag of sugar. I can tolerate lemon water and Cajun deli sliced chicken from the grocery store!! I am praying this phases out soon. I started at 288 and am now 215!! I feel fairly ok however with the Covid pandemic I can only do what I can. You all be safe and healthy

  20. My tastes for things are really changing,I’ve always loved coffee ,I’d have at least 3cups a day. Now I cant stand the taste or smell of it. Such a disappointment. Some days I don’t really care if I eat or not . But on these days I do have my protein shakes ,which I make in my shaker cup.

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