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Retraining Your Taste Buds

One of the biggest challenges when working with clients is getting them on board with trying new foods, or cutting things out like processed foods–and those dreaded artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately we live in a world today where food companies highly influence our diet. These companies do much of their research and marketing to sell more products–that means adding ingredients into food that excite your taste buds and get your body addicted so you want more!

Often I will come across an adult client who actually hates vegetables. Absolutely gags when they smells or sees them. It is very difficult to get around that, but not impossible! When I look at someone’s diet who is lacking in vegetables and whole foods, naturally they are eating a lot of processed, convenience foods. Many times, people crave mostly bread products, and are turned off by fresh whole foods. There is actually some science behind those cravings!

When your body craves a lot of breads (and sugar) it is actually a red flag that your gut health is off-balance. Pathogenic microbes tend to take over the digestive tract and alter our cravings in destructive ways. So sugar-loving “bad” bacteria tell you that you need more breads and sugar to feed them! When we say you need to “trust your gut” –it is  tough when everything is off balance and sending you faulty signals. Your gut flora is actually established at birth when you pass through the birth canal. And in life, gut flora is negatively affected by things like taking antibiotics, prescription medications, processed foods, stress, and an unhealthy lifestyle. We replenish healthy bacteria in the gut (which is the center of our immune system), by taking a probiotic supplement, consuming fermented foods (home made or properly prepared sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles) , real (!) gelatin, coconut kefir, or kombucha. (We will share more on this later and how you can fit these things into your diet!) Digestion starts in the mouth, but one of the first steps to changing your taste buds actually starts in your gut!

 

Loving Sweets is in our DNA.

 

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Our bodies are built, genetically, to protect ourselves for survival. Imagine back in the stone age, how cavemen found what foods were “safe” to eat. The hunters and gatherers would go out to seek food. When picking berries, perhaps they tasted one to see how it would affect them. Did it make them sick, fall down in pain? Maybe the next day they went back and picked a few more berries from that same patch because of their positive experience. It became a food generally recognized as “safe” for consumption, in which they chose to consume regularly. So we were actually born to want sweet foods. Unfortunately today those sweet foods are so processed, so in abundance, and so available to us that we no longer appreciate the sweetness of a few berries due to our taste buds being skewed from all the sugar and flavor enhancers added to foods today!

 

Blame Your Parents?

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Many of our food preferences develop as a child. Sometimes, however, those preferences go much deeper than taste.

Have any of you had to sit at the dinner table for an hour after your family had finished because you wouldn’t touch your vegetables? For my brother it was peas, for me, au gratin potatoes (blech) or Brussels sprouts. The latter is now my favorite vegetable, ironically! Many of us have been there: “you can’t leave this table and go out to play until you’ve eaten 5 bites of your veggies.”

Well, even one bite tasted so bitter where you wanted to gag that you just couldn’t do it. So you sat there, and sat there until it got cold and even more disgusting. You began to despise that vegetable more than anything else in your life.

Meanwhile, it was your parents who were punishing you—but you wouldn’t direct your feeling towards them? They provide you with love, shelter, food, comfort—all of your basic human needs. And they were your parents. They were doing what they thought was best for you at that time. However, you were being taught to ignore your hunger and not listen to your body to tackle what seemed to be this huge, overwhelming portion of: {insert most hated childhood veggie here}. Those feeling of hurt, embarrassment, anger….you direct that towards the broccoli. Later in life as a 30 something year old, or even 60 something year old you still have those feelings but in the form of disgust and bitterness towards the offending vegetable{s}. In retrospect, your taste buds mature over time and foods that tasted bitter as a child will tone down, or even taste good as an adult!

 

What To Do About It?

Our 30-Day Program focuses a lot on this issue. When making certain changes we actually recommend not turning it into a battle of willpower (baby steps). However, when you are adding in a food you have gagged at for years, or even in some cases a food you NEVER even tried because you assumed you would dislike it, baby steps works great! There are definitely strategies and approaches to retrain your taste buds to love the flavors in whole, natural, unprocessed foods. I have worked with clients as young as 10 with this same gag-reflex, and it was a matter of preparing the food differently, convincing them to have an open mind to just try, not forcing them to eat anything they didn’t want to. Simply  going into it with a positivist attitude, willing and open to try something new can open your world up in ways you didn’t think were possible! Again, your taste buds mature and change over time. So many times our thinking we dislike something is only in our heads!

Look at food in a new light, as a positive adventure. Food is medicine and it is here to nourish you and make you feel good! You don’t have to eat bland, steamed broccoli to be healthy. Fat has been demonized for years, but in many cases, choosing the right fats to prepare your vegetables with will not only make them more palatable, but help you to better digest them! In the end, if you still dislike broccoli, no one is forcing you to eat it! There is still a whole world of veggies out there to try, and many ways to try them!

 

This is just one of the the many things we will teach you during our program. We delve much deeper into these issues, strategies, and finding things that will work for your own individual needs and tastebuds!

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