Taste is one of our most important senses, and it can get us in trouble if we have cravings for certain tastes! Potato chips, chocolate, or sugar– the list of tastes we love (but that are actually bad for us) goes on and on! But did you know that you can CHANGE your taste buds? I’m serious! Use these five steps to reprogram your taste buds to keep you from craving foods that will derail your progress!
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Fight the Addiction.
Addiction? What addiction? Let me tell you: science says that the serious overdoses of sugar and fat in our diet are addictive to our taste buds, and that they also dull them! That means that you’ll crave those tastes but constantly need more and more to get your fix, and you might not be able to register new tastes as they actually are. So step 1 to changing your taste buds is to make a serious commitment to swearing off large amounts of these ingredients. You don’t have to go cold turkey! Try weaning yourself off of them and finding enjoyable replacements for fatty or sugary foods and drinks. Over time, it will get easier to avoid (but warning: you might pass a couple of grumpy days as your body and brain adjusts!).
Try it Again and Again.
It can be difficult to try foods that we’re sure we don’t like, but it’s an important step in reprogramming your taste buds. If you have bad memories of hating broccoli as a child, maybe it’s time to try it again. And if you find that you don’t like it, you’re not done! Try it with a minimum of 2 ways of preparation: Maybe you don’t like sauteed broccoli, but you might like it roasted, in a creamy soup, or raw in a salad. Sometimes we think we don’t like the taste of something when really it’s the texture. When it comes to vegetables, texture can change so much just by cooking ingredients differently. Set a goal to try 3 foods each week that you normally don’t eat. Kale, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, and lentils might be a great place to start, but go with what will work for your personally!
Trick your Brain!
If you’re still not a fan of something that you KNOW you should be including in your diet, try and pair it with something that you do like. For example, if you’re still not a fan of brussel sprouts, try sprinkling them with parmesan cheese after cooking. At first you’re just masking the taste a bit, but you’re brain will start to associate BOTH tastes with happy feelings instead of just the cheese. After trying this magical combo a few times together, you’re likely to find that brussel sprouts are a new dish in your regular rotation!
Become a Mouth Breather.
A big part of our sense of taste comes from our nose (shocking, right?), so sometimes you may think you don’t like the taste of something, but what you actually don’t like is the smell! Quite a few vegetables have scents that are different from their actual tastes, but if you’re smelling it in front of your mouth for 15 seconds while you debate whether you’re going to eat it or not, all you ever get is the disagreeable smell. Take stinky vegetables and try boiling or roasting them to help remove the sulfurous compounds that cause their odors. Another good tip? Your sense of smell is weakest in the evening, so save dinner for the time of day when you get wild and adventurous with new and healthy foods. Try to avoid taking huge whiffs of food before taking a bite if you know it’s a food that you have a complicated past with.
Spice Things Up!
If you’re really craving salty, fatty, or sugary flavors but you’re being so so good by avoiding them, try to keep your mouth entertained with other flavors! Soy sauce, chili pepper, sri racha, vinegar (and all of its variants! Rice vinegar is a great and interesting taste to add depth to stirfrys, for example), mustard, lemon, and fresh herbs are all great ways to create interesting tastes that will liven up any pot of green beans or lentils!
Make Small Changes
If you consider yourself a really picky eater, this is an important step to consider. If you’re a fan of butter, don’t drop straight into dark olive oil– try a lighter one to ease yourself into the transition. If you’re a chocolate lover, don’t move from milk chocolate to 80% pure cacao! Start with smaller percentages of cacao and work your way up. Water down your juices or sodas with a bit of water until eventually you don’t need such intense sugary tastes to get your sweet fix! Sometimes making huge and sweeping changes is really setting yourself up for failuer. Humans are creatures of habit and that’s ok. Start small but stay constant and you’ll end up where you need to be!
What are your best tricks for trying new foods and tastes?
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