Retrain your Taste Buds
We are creatures of habit and our habits then perpetuate everything about us as a creature. For example, our relationship with our taste buds is in some ways a habit. We become habituated to taste and this affects how we we then make choices about what we eat based in part on what we are accustomed to having or experiencing.
Retraining our taste buds to appreciate real food can help support us in the process of making choices that support our health, wellness, and balance.
I was reminded of this recently in a conversation about the merits of drinking water. Particularly when it comes to drinking water as compared to drinking sweet beverages. If we’re always drinking something that is sweet—particularly if we’re drinking something artificially sweet or with additives or flavorings, then we become familiar with that level or type of flavor and everything else can seem, well, off. Think about always eating apples in the form of an apple pie or apple candy. Then an actual apple might not taste very sweet. It might taste bland, we might not even enjoy it because the overly sweet version has become our habit. Whether it is water or an apple, it might take some retraining of our taste buds to enjoy a glass of water or a bite of an apple. When we take the time to do this, it can help us to enjoy food. More importantly, retraining our taste buds to appreciate real food can help support us in the process of making choices that support our health, wellness, and balance.
Steps for Retraining Your Taste Buds
- Eat slowly. First and foremost, taste whatever it is that you are eating rather than eating so quickly that you don’t have the opportunity to taste your food. When you slow down, you can experience the sensory aspect of your food or drink.
- Practice mindfulness while eating. This takes the practice of eating slowly another step further. When we are eating slowly, we have the time to pay attention. When we eat mindfully, we absorb ourselves in the process of noticing what we are eating and training ourselves to experience the nuances of taste.
- Eat when you are eating. If you simply eat when you are eating as opposed to eating in front of the television or Facebook, you may not notice what you are eating. Eating when we’re eating is part of the training program of attention and awareness.
- Take time between meals. Depending on our needs and constitution, we may need to eat more small meals or fewer meals, but even if we need to eat several snacks throughout the day, try setting discrete times that are meal or snack times rather than eating continuously.
- Drink more water. Drinking water cleanses our palate and allows us to habituate to the taste of water by itself. It allows us to distinguish between different flavors and to reduce our dependence on strong taste sensations like those that are overly sweet and overly salty.
- Set down the salt shaker, cut back on sugar, and just say no to processed foods. When we eat a lot of sugar and salt, our taste buds think that this is how food is supposed to taste. If we shift ourselves away from the sugary and salty, then we have the opportunity to experience foods as they are meant to be tasted and we can enjoy them as they are.
- Try an occasional mono diet. In Ayurveda, kitcheree is a traditional mono diet or fasting food. Kitcheree is a mix of mung beans and rice, cooked together with spices, until soupy. This complete protein is easy to digest and helps to reset the digestive system. The process of simplification can also help us to reset our taste buds.
Enjoying an apple or feeling refreshed after drinking a glass of plain water can help us on the path to everyday wellness.