If You Want To Be Healthier, Change Your Taste Buds!
When we consume highly processed foods, we are training ourselves to eat certain foods that are not fueling our body with proper nutrition. When we are hooked on such foods, our taste buds become “desensitized” and we often lose the appreciation for natural flavors found in whole foods. For example, fruit is naturally sweet, but individuals often lose their appreciation for this more natural, subtle fruit sweetness because they are looking for that ‘hypersweet’ taste they find in processed, refined, artificial foods.
Did you know that it can take between 10 to 14 days to change the way you taste food? Simple changes to your daily diet can help you change your taste buds and in turn make you consume healthier and more wholesome foods. The fad temporary diets that are constantly being promoted to you on the Internet are not sustainable and will not help you in the long run. Opt for a lifestyle that is enjoyable, healthy and sustainable. Below are a few tips that can help you develop a new baseline for different flavors to enjoy healthier foods, and modify your palate:
- When you crave sugar, try eating foods with contrasting flavor, like citrus fruits (sour/bitter orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit) or mint.
- Reduce salt - gradually taper the amount of added salt you use. Regularly salted foods will start tasting too salty.
- Flavor your water. Add cucumber, lemon, or mint to plain water to make it more palatable if you have a sweet tooth.
- Rather than eliminating all desserts, allow yourself one or two squares of dark chocolate or healthier dessert options to help satisfy sweet cravings.
- Mix your own yogurt. Rather than buying sugary yogurt at the grocery store, opt for plain and add fresh fruit instead.
- Spices! Cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg can be great sugar alternatives in oatmeal, coffee, and tea by tricking your palate into “thinking” you’re eating something sweet. The more you reduced refined sugar in your diet, the less you will crave it!
- Fresh or dried herbs! Thyme, rosemary, basil, fennel are great ingredients to add while cooking to enhance the flavor of your meals.
- Cut your sugary coffee intake in half (or more). If sweetened coffee drinks are your thing, ask the barista to reduce the pumps of syrup by half. Your palate will adjust just after a few orders!
- Instead of adding sugar, roast, grill or bake vegetables and fruits to caramelize the natural sugars and increase the sweet flavor.
Author: Linda Said, US Registered Dietitian.