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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12 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.

  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.

  6. 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..

  7. 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?

  8. 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

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