The Taste of Bacon and Illness

Why does bacon taste bad when I am sick? It’s almost like the bacon tastes spoiled…but no one else can tell. I don’t notice this peculiarity with other foods. I always now avoid bacon when I have a cold. Is it just me or is there something in bacon that reacts poorly with phlegm?

No, I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed anything about it, but perhaps it’s because your nostrils are all stuffed up, all you can taste is the salt?

Maybe, but I don’t find this problem with any other foods, salty or not. I gag when I eat bacon when sick. And I usually love the stuff.

It’s impossible to say for sure without testing, but it wouldn’t be surprising if this were a real thing. What we call “taste” is a biochemical reaction between molecules in the food and receptor proteins on your tongue. There is a fair amount of variation from person to person in those receptor proteins (PTC tasting via TAS2R38, f’rinstance), and the inflammation and other immune reactions going on during an illness could certainly affect your sense of taste differently than other peoples’.

I don’t suppose you have your entire sequenced genome handy, do you?

I really doubt we need to get into the genetic variability in taste buds to explain this. Taste is greatly influenced by smell and, as Guinastasia points out, being stuffed up definitely changes the taste of food. My guess would be one particular part of the flavor of bacon is changed in a way that makes it taste bad to the OP. I notice a change in the taste of bacon during a cold but the difference does not make it taste bad to me.

I’ll try a low sodium bacon next time I am sick. Interesting, I never suspected sodium.

WAG here but I doubt it is the salt. It could very well be the smoked flavor. If it were the salt I would expect ham and other salted foods would taste bad to you when you are sick

My guess would be that the culprit is the fat content.

But even aside from the chemical/physiological component, there’s also the psychological component. Your brain can receive the exact same stimulus, but interpret it differently. If you eat something, and shortly afterwards get sick, you’ll quickly learn to find the taste of that thing unpleasant, even if the sickness had nothing to do with what you ate. This can trigger after only a single exposure.

The unpleasant bacon/sickness taste has been with me as long ask can remember. I always ask if anyone else thinks the bacon is spoiled,but alas no one else has a problem. I always assumed it was something about bacon, but I guess it could be something about me. But it does not happen with any other food.

This would only apply if the OP found bacon unpleasant all the time after a bad experience. Here, the OP likes bacon but it tastes funny only when he/she is ill.

That would be my guess, too; just the thought of eating something very rich like bacon while sick makes my stomach clench a little.

I know exactly what you are talking about. I think congestion might *selectively affect taste/smell receptors. So those chemicals which signal “decay” are always present, but are generally masked by the more appealing fragrances that signal “smoke” and “meat” and so forth. I notice this when I have a cold, and similarly with early pregnancy, which can give one both morning sickness and congestion. It’s not just bacon, but most preserved/fermented meats and other foods like sauerkraut. Salamis can be the worst!
*such as putrescine.