Experts note that the loss or alteration of an individual’s ability to smell can result in serious health consequences. Some may seek out hyper-flavoured (frequently hyper-processed) foods, while the sensation loss may lead others to under eat. Parosmia – a condition that makes foods smell unpalatable – is also common among Covid sufferers, with the pandemic meaning these afflictions are now global problems.
British cooking school Life Kitchen launched a cookbook that aims to help individuals affected by long-term smell alterations regain pleasure in food. The recipes are designed for multisensory stimulation, with layered textures, ingredients and visuals.
Meanwhile, Italian food professional Michele Crippa used his own experience with Covid-induced parosmia to develop the Sensory Box aroma retraining programme. The box contains aromatic compounds familiar to Italians (like anise, truffle and lemon), which are intended to help patients reconnect these smells with pleasurable memories and sensations. Working with sensory analysts at the University of Brescia and Italian research group Good Senses, Crippa’s programme guides users through a series of smelling exercises over the course of several weeks.
This guided approach to scent-retraining is catching on. In March 2022, UK food kit company Gousto launched ‘Flavour Saviour’ kits in partnership with British smell and taste disorder charity AbScent. Like Crippa’s programme, the boxes contain a series of pungent food aromas intended to be sniffed over the course of several weeks. Physical therapy for smelling is increasingly being suggested as a tool to tackle anosmia and parosmia.