Americans nowadays are conditioned to consume processed foods from the moment of birth. From infant formula, babies are then given bottled baby food. Then they graduate to snacks and sodas and so on. This may be the result of our fast lifestyle. We are so in a rush that we have no time to prepare home made foods and instead buy our meals from stores and restaurants without realizing the ill effects on our health.
But preparing healthy foods is not really as time-consuming as some would think. The main problem is our taste preference. With the abundance of processed foods now on grocery stores, the American palate has been conditioned to eat junk and unhealthy foods. The American people are now suffering from what some experts call “taste inflation”.
What is taste inflation? It is when our taste buds are desensitized to subtle flavors. Taste inflation happens when our taste buds are so inundated with sugar, salt and MSG or monosodium glutamate, found in most if not all processed foods, that our sense of taste can no longer detect and appreciate the simple flavors of natural food.
Now as people’s sense of taste became numb, it needs more stimulation so food manufacturers add more chemical flavor enhancers in their products. We can see salt, sugar and MSG on food labels but we don’t care because our taste buds don’t even notice it.
Unfortunately these flavor enhancers not only desensitize our taste buds they also wreck havoc on our health. According to the National Center of Health Statistics, heart diseases, cancers and stroke are still the leading causes of death in the USA today with diabetes not far behind. Obesity among children is also on the rise. These illnesses are preventable and are usually caused by having an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.
The abundance of sugar in sodas and other beverages as well as other food items such as cookies and cakes can bring on diabetes. Not only that, sugar has been known to undermine the calcium in our bones which could lead to osteoporosis. While health experts point to the salt in processed foods as the culprit behind the rise of hypertension in the country. The list of maladies due to constant eating of processed foods goes on and on.
Adjusting your taste buds
But, there is no need to despair as there is still hope. If you are really serious about getting back in shape and staying healthy by eating right then you had better decide to adjust your taste buds. By adjusting your taste buds you will be able to revitalize your health. Though adjusting one’s palate will take time, it is quite possible and can really be done. Our taste buds are actually more adaptable than what some people would think. The key is realizing that it is possible to adjust your taste buds.
Do it gradually
Once you have made the decision to eat right and retrain your palate, realize that this doesn’t happen overnight. Most of the time, a gradual adjustment is more effective than a sudden shift. Remember that you have been accustomed to the food you’ve been eating for many years and a sudden shift may shock your palate and cause you to quit on your resolve.
For example, in incorporating more whole grains into your diet, instead of shifting to brown rice all at once, consider mixing brown and white rice together for a start or add whole wheat flour to your flour mixture a cup at a time.
You can also focus on one thing to adjust to one at a time. It may be using better sweeteners or no sweeteners at all, using less salt in cooking, adding healthy meat substitutes or more vegetables, whatever you think needs more focus on at the moment. For instance, when a housewife decided to cut down the salt intake of her family, she slowly lessened the salt in her dishes, particularly on the eggs she cooked for breakfast. Before long, her family members were eating eggs without salt and they hardly noticed it.
Use healthy substitutes
In retraining your palate, you don’t have to quit on some eating habits that have become sort of a tradition in your family. Instead of removing some habits altogether, try some healthy alternatives and substitutes. For example, if drinking instant coffee or tea has been your early morning ritual, try shifting to the more natural brewed coffee or use herbal teas instead. If you have been used to having desserts after a meal, have fresh fruits instead of those sugary cakes and pastries or if you like drinking juice with your meal or snack, a juicer can be a good investment for your health as you can make your own homemade freshly squeezed fruit juices.
Don’t force it
Some parents think that forcing kids to eat their vegetables is the best way to teach them healthy eating. On the contrary it could have the opposite effect. When your child says no, ask him to try it out first but never force him to eat it. The same is true for adults, let yourself try something new, something you know to be healthy but you are not accustomed to eating, just have a taste then move on to the next food item.
Try it again and again
The best way to introduce new flavors and new dishes to your family is by letting them try the food again and again. As some would say, you won’t really know if you like a particular food or not if you have not tried it 21 times. In retraining your taste buds, try a small portion of a food item 21 times before deciding whether you like it or not. As you branch out to more flavors other than just the salty and sweet, you will discover that some foods are not as bad as you think. From trying it out at first, you might move on to actually liking the food.