Some people say they don’t like the taste of some of the foods I recommend––certain vegetables, fruits, or other things they are unaccustomed to eating. This can change. Your tastes aren’t engraved in stone. They are conditioned habits that can be changed with persistence.
What does your body want and need?
Although your mind may prefer processed foods, your body certainly does not! Your body prefers foods with real flavors that come with a high nutrient density. The effects of advertising and familial habits have put your mind out of harmony with your body. Your mind must be trained to accept natural foods. If you practice eating wholesome unrefined foods, you will grow to like them so much that you may rarely, if ever, want anything else.
Unfamiliar foods are like strangers
You don’t know them and maybe suspicious of them, unless you are an extremely adventurous eater. When you try a new food (or present one to your husband or children), try at least three mouthful (and encourage them to do the same). Do this at least three days in a row and make sure to try at least three different recipes using that particular food. If that seems too difficult, then every time you try a new food, eat at least three mouthfuls; try the food at least three days in a row, then try the food again in at least two more recipes, eaten at least three times.
Repetition is the key
Yes, I just repeated myself! The only way to change your habits is through repetition. If you want better health, you have to make choices that meet your body’s nutritional needs. Some things will be unfamiliar at first, but your body will eventually thank you for making the change.
It helps to know more about how your sense of taste works and how malleable it really is. What I’m about to write may surprise you. I hope that it inspires you to see that you have the power to change your tastes, preferences, and habits.
Your Sense of Taste
Have you ever eaten something that tasted bland to you, but seemed just right to someone else? Have you ever liked a dish that someone else thought was too spicy or too sweet? You’re not alone. People think the taste is in the food. That’s only half right. How a food tastes to you depends on what you’re accustomed to eating. Taste is relative.
If you regularly drink soda or other sugared or artificially sweetened beverages, plain water might seem dull and uninteresting. If you eat white bread and white rice, you might find 100% whole wheat bread and brown rice to be heavy, dry, and bland. If you eat conventional sweets (refined sugar daily, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, candy, soda, sugared beverages), you may find that fresh fruit or baked sweet potatoes don’t satisfy your sweet tooth.
Resetting your taste receptors
Why? If you eat very salty or intensely sweet foods on a daily basis, your taste receptors will down-regulate. Your body shuts off some of your taste receptors because it no longer needs them. Then, if you eat more plain and simple foods, the flavors don’t register. The tastes are there, but you can’t sense them because your taste receptors have a higher threshold. You need more stimulation—more salt, more sugar, more spice—to notice the flavors.
Let me give you an analogy. If you regularly drink alcohol, you’ll have a higher tolerance for it than someone who rarely or never drinks. It takes more booze for you to get a buzz than it does for a nondrinker. We each experience the alcohol differently depending on whether or how much we normally drink. It’s the same with foods and flavors.
If you decide to reduce or eliminate sugar, it can take 30 to 90 days for your taste receptors to up-regulate so they have greater sensitivity. If you persist, you can reset your taste receptors. I’ve done it, and I’ve watched other people do it. The longer you do it, the easier it becomes to avoid intensely sugary (or salty) foods because they simply taste too sweet (or salty).
You may have to repeat the process. If you reduce your dependence on sweets and sweeteners and then return to eating them more often, your taste receptors will reset again at a higher level and you’ll have a greater desire and tolerance these foods. How much and how often you eat them will determine whether you have to start over or simply drop down a few notches to once again be satisifed with simpler, less sweet or less salty food.
Choosing health & making changes
If you want to achieve better health, you have to make choices that meet your body’s nutritional needs first, and then have patience while your taste buds catch up. Your body will gradually begin to respond in noticeable ways. In the meantime, you have to use the power of positive intention to retrain your body and mind. (I didn’t say it would be easy, did I? It takes focus, discipline, and determination and over time you really can make a huge change in the amount of sweetness or salt you require for something to taste good or great and for it to satisfy you.)
Need help making a change?
Consider enrolling in some of my half day (Saturday) and 5-week (weeknight or Saturday) hands-on cooking classes at SWHA (Southwest Institute of Healing Arts) in Tempe, AZ. You’ll see, cook, sample, and make friends with new foods and recipes. If you’re like most of my students, you will discover that you like many foods you previously thought you didn’t care for, that you’ll learn about new ways to prepare familiar and unfamiliar foods, and that you can be a good or even great cook armed with information, user-friendly recipes, and the experience of working with other enthusiastic learners.