Challenge Your Taste Buds To Conquer Your Sweet Tooth
What’s your favorite food?
Favorite foods can lead down many paths.
Is it the food that makes you feel physically well —nourished, after eating it?
Or, is the food that you just plain looove to eat, unable to stop, such as pasta, chips, cookies or ice cream?
Does it provide that crunchy or creamy sensation, or salty or savory taste?
Maybe it’s a food that you associate with a happy time?
Some foods for some people trigger addictive signals in their gut and brain making it hard to stop eating that food (without certain behavior modifications and other diet/nutrient adjustments).
For those with GI-belly issues, a favorite food could simply be a food that just doesn’t rock the GI boat.
For many people visions of their favorite food sit precariously on the periphery of their mind, sometimes all day.
At a moment of stress or emotional or physical weakness—BOOM, there it is —chocolate ice cream, mysteriously making its way into their mouth.
I’ve never met a chocolate ice cream I didn’t like.
We all have certain food behaviors that are influenced by a variety of factors in our life including how we are raised.
Regardless of these factors, simply challenging your taste buds is one food behavior, which can have exponential benefit.
What are unchallenged tastebuds?
You know the kids whose total diet repertoire is all of four foods, often all white in color? No reds, blues, or greens — you may have been one of these children or have a child who is one.
Some of these kids grow up to be adults with the same restricted taste buds-resistant to trying new tastes, new consistencies or new colors.
Sometimes other medical issues are contributing factors.
For many children, however, once they start socializing with friends and other families, their food horizons expand.
When I ask a client if there are any foods that they don’t like— a great answer is always, “No- I love everything”. I know that person will have an easier time experimenting with food flavors.
Do sweets have a hold on you?
Challenging your taste buds even help to conquer the proverbial “sweet tooth”, perhaps one food love that is healthier not to have.
Sweet cravings stem from a variety of factors. Interestingly, research suggest that people who are indifferent about after meal sugar treats may have different organisms living in their gut from those with a penchant for that post-meal sugar hit.
Also, certain gene variants may both play a role in those persistent sweet cravings.
Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), is one gene variant that has received attention. It’s a hormone produced in the liver and has many different functions in the body related to metabolism and energy usage….so makes sense that it could be related to sugar cravings.
Animal studies and some limited human studies suggest that people with two copies of this gene variant have a 20 % higher chance of craving that extra sweet.
Alas, there is hope.
Trying new tastes and combinations of ingredients in foods that you wouldn’t necessarily seek out by yourself has tremendous emotional and nutritional benefit.
When we combine tastes that might not seem like they work together, we’re satisfying different sensory stimuli, usually leaving us more physically and mentally satisfied after a meal- less likely to be looking for more.
Plus, eating a variety of flavors means Nutrient Density.
Even if sugar is embeded in your genes, challenging your taste buds with contrasting flavors and more nutrient density can lead to a sort of “deconditioning” towards your sweet callings and help encourage the growth of a healthy more diversified gut microbiome.
My observations from years of working with clients, is that those people who eat a variety of healthy foods, with a variety of textures and flavors, especially a variety of vegetables with healthy fats at most meals are not owned by their sweets.
This is true even for folks who used to start and end their day with sugar.
You don’t have to say goodby to sweets completely, but by challenging your taste buds with other flavor filled nourishment, sweets won’t be on rerun in your brain. Sweets become enjoyable but are not a necessity.
Four Tips To Challenge Your Taste Buds and Conquer Your Sweet Tooth.
1. Combine consistencies.
Add a sliced, crunchy apple to a plate of leafy greens or top off a salad with a few walnuts, almond slices and or pumpkin or sunflowers seeds.
2. Combine sweet and bitter foods or sweet and sour foods.
Add pomegranate seeds or dried fruit to brussel sprouts, greens or broccoli or add a sour pickle or sauerkraut to a meal or use fermented kefir as a salad dressing.
100 % pure lime juice, without sugar can be added to a variety of foods, from seltzer water to an avocado mix. Lime juice is tart and is an opposing flavor to sweet. Lemon works too.
3. Spice it up.
Spices contain phytonutrients, chemicals that benefit that body and a little can go a long way. Add cinnamon, clove or ginger to cereals, grains, smoothies, coffee, or add cayenne pepper or turmeric to vegetable and meat dishes or just sprinkle good old fashioned black pepper on veggies and other dishes of your choice.
4. Work at your food.
Foods that slide down just a bit too easily, sometimes leave us looking for more. Foods such as yogurt or smoothies do better when they are lower in sugar and higher in nutrients.
So, thicken up your smoothies for more consistency with berries, chia seeds, yogurt or kefir.
Also, a salad with a crunchy fruit and slices of protein that require thoughtful chewing, not only help the process of digestion so that nutrients can be fully utilized in the gut, but they also provide more time to process and enjoy the contrast of flavors.
Find your carbohydrate tolerance.
We all have our own carbohydrate tolerance or threshold at which we stay healthy. This can change over our lives depending on a changing gut microbiome.
Your carb tolerance will show up in your blood glucose levels and in GI symptoms.
Challenging your taste buds with a variety of nutrient dense foods usually results in eating fewer but better quality carbs.
You can learn more about how to adjust your carbohydrate intake to a level that suits your needs in my book, The Seductive Land of Carbs.
More diverse tastebuds, more nutrient dense foods, better health.