On Retraining Your Taste Buds.
Oh, if only we could automatically love those new foods when we have to change our diets. The main reasons we struggle with new or different food choices include the following:
- Bad childhood memories associated with a certain food. This is due to either dull or flavorless food preparation, or emotional issues connected to a food.
2. It doesn’t taste like the comfort food you are used to. The foods you are familiar with determine your preferences, such a small children that love spicy food, or seaweed chips. It’s what they are raised eating.
4. We are so used to excess sugar and salt in processed foods that when we try foods with less of those things, they seem tasteless. Our taste buds have become desensitized.
Can we change that? Yes, over time, and not even a long time.
According to David Katz, MD in his book Disease Proof you can rewire your taste buds to enjoy healthier foods.
Part of the reason it is so difficult is because we are so used to processed foods. Companies spend great amounts of money on research and engineering foods to keep you craving more. They are in search of the perfect ingredient combination. Ever eat something and say “These are so addictive.”? There’s a reason for that. Ever eat an apple and say, “These are so addictive.”? I thought not.
Flavor enhancers are also added to foods to artificially add more flavor or a certain flavor to foods. Then, when we eat the natural food, it doesn’t see to have much flavor.
We have so much sugar and salt all day that it desensitized our taste buds requiring more. (That happens to more areas of our life than just food.) By having less you can reset the buds. You will actually become used to less. I know this is true from experience. I eat much less sugar than I used to. Some things I use to eat can sometimes be too sweet now. There are many foods I don’t even want anymore. When you cut these things out you will find your are able to taste the flavors of foods more!
Interested in retraining your taste buds? Here are some tips Dr. Katz gives in his book and others I found to be true as well.
1. Make the switch gradually by only replacing a little at a time. For example if you are switching from whole to low fat milk, mix the milks adding more skim milk each time until it is all skim. The same can go for rice. If you are changing from white to brown or black, mix them using just and little brown and add more each time until it is 100% brown.
2. Don’t be afraid to try foods you didn’t like when you are little. You may just like them now. According to Dr. Katz, our taste buds become less sensitive as we age so strong foods like cabbage, brussels sprouts, coffee, etc might be foods we actually enjoy now.
3. Know why you are eating it. You are more likely to try/like something if you understand why you should eat it.
5. Try cooking it a different way. Sometime we don’t like food because it is cooked in a flavorless way. Try it raw, grilled, roasted, steamed, etc. Grilling and roasting bring out more of the flavors and natural sugars than boiling and steaming.
6. Repeat your exposure. Dr. Katz says you need to give it 10-15 tries for it to become familiar. Remember, we prefer what is familiar.
7. Make it fun. According to the American Dietetic Association, we are more likely to eat foods associated with a fun experience. Go cherry picking and eat the cherries.
8. Cut back gradually. If you take 4 sugars in your tea/coffee. Use less each time. (Like the frog in the boiling water)
9. Make it pretty. It will be more appetizing.
10. Add one bite. Put one bite (I call it a “no thank you portion”) on your plate with your regular meal, each night. Eat it with your meal. Over time you will build familiarity.
11. Enhance flavors naturally. Use herbs and spices to enhance the flavors.
12. Keep it positive. Don’t try new food when you are in a bad mood. Nothing in life is right then.
Don’t give up. Experiment with it. Give it 6-8 weeks to be successful. I didn’t like the gluten and dairy free alternatives when I started. Now they are just normal to me. I don’t crave the other foods anymore. Frankly, I’d rather feel healthy than eat a piece of bread.
“If you want to do something you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an excuse.”
Have you retrained your taste buds?
What techniques did you use? Do you have any techniques besides these?
Start a discussion below. I’d love to know your thoughts.