Note: This is a guest post from Varsha Aditya of CaloriesAndMore.com
When eating healthfully seems like a chore, it’s often because we are slaves of our taste buds. Our tongues can be like little dictators in our body, demanding that everything have sugar, chocolate, oils, butter, cream…The list goes on. Why do we crave just those things that we’re supposed to eat in moderation? Why don’t healthy things like greens and steamed vegetables give us that “feel-good” feeling? And what’s the solution””is there actually a way to enjoy and love healthy foods without being a gourmet chef?
The answer is a resounding YES! Here are five simple things you can do to train your taste buds and savor the flavor of your vegetables:
1. Leave off the salt and spices. Most of what you read about making healthy food tasty is about covering it up with spices. It’s wonderful to know how to cook, and how to use a variety of spices, but it’s also a little like resigning yourself to the fact that steamed vegetables or salads are “tasteless” and that something must be done to them to make them palatable. This is actually so far from the truth! Every single real food””that is, unprocessed food””has a unique taste. If you think it’s tasteless, it’s because your taste buds are, well, spoiled.
What would you think of a wine or beer connoisseur who liberally mixed in a spoonful of sugar in his wine or beer before tasting it “to cover up the bitterness”? What about a coffee fanatic who adds sugar and cream liberally before trying out the latest organic flavor from the Andes mountains? You would never see that happen because those people have trained their taste buds to distinguish minor nuances in their drinks. They savor every flavor that comes through and delight in the experience of sensing something new.
2. Don’t overcook. Overcooking vegetables not only reduces the vitamin content, but also turns everything into an unappetizing mush. Cooked vegetables have the most flavor and are healthiest when their colors are the brightest””that is, lightly steamed. Texture and smell are an important part of flavor. Learn to appreciate the texture and feel of each vegetable along with the taste.
3. Eat vegetables in isolation. This is not a rule to be followed all the time. It’s just a suggestion to help you pay attention to the flavor of a vegetable in a way you might not have before. Eating carrots by themselves will make you aware of flavors in the carrot that you wouldn’t sense if they were mixed with other vegetables. You can try this even with vegetables that are never normally eaten in isolation, like lettuce. Contrary to popular belief, iceberg lettuce does have a flavor despite its high water content! Can you taste it?
4. Mentally separate flavors when eating salads or other dishes. When you do eat prepared dishes with many ingredients, see if you can identify the contribution each ingredient makes to the overall taste. Can you separate the olive oil from the potatoes and the rosemary from the carrots? Incidentally, this will not only increase your enjoyment of your food, it will also make you a better cook!
5. Close your eyes and guess the green. When you buy a mix of greens for a salad, like a Spring Mix which usually includes various kind of lettuce as well as greens like chard and arugula, try to learn the names of the different kinds of leaves. Learn each taste separately and then make it a game to identify the leaf with your eyes closed. There will definitely be some that you don’t like as much as others, but you may be surprised how many greens actually have a sweet crunchy flavor that’s enjoyable. Make a resolution to try the ones you don’t like a minimum of 5 times””many of my favorite foods were acquired tastes that I didn’t initially like at all.
Your taste buds are just receptors for various substances in your food. When you train your taste buds, you’re really training your mind. The five senses get stronger with practice and training and the sense of taste is no exception. It’s not just for gastronomic experts””training taste buds will help anyone struggling to eat healthy. What a delight it is when your food is not only good for you, but tastes good, too!
Varsha Aditya is a writer for the popular calorie counter website CaloriesAndMore.com which promotes healthy and sustainable weight loss without all the impossible rules of fad diets. Visit us to find more articles about sustainable weight loss, and see how CaloriesAndMore.com can make healthy living easy and fun!
Photo by Muffet
5 Ways to Train Your Taste Buds and Eat Healthier
Note: This is a guest post from Varsha Aditya of CaloriesAndMore.com
Eating vegetables in isolation is a really cool thing. I love the taste of cucumbers and carrots am sure blindfolded. I would know the taste. I like that challenge of guessing the green in a mixed salad. Now that would be interesting, will have to do it. Reading this, made just makes me feel like munching a carrot 🙂
I like to steam vegetables and eat them immediately.
Have you tried thin green beans, steamed for about 7 minutes so they are still crunchy, and eaten as finger food?
Love the idea of veggie isolation. Who know baby carrots were sweet? #health
That is a lovely article. It is so much fun to learn about food. There are the colors, the smells, and, of course, the tastes. I remember a scene in “No Reservations”, the movie starring Catherine Zeta Jones, where the two chefs are blindfolding each other and tasting food. Catherine is running off the ingredients from a simple taste. Marvelous! This could turn into something fun with a significant other also. I once had a friend of mine feed me dried fruit. With my eyes shut, I guessed which piece of dried fruit she had placed in my mouth. This would just as exciting with fresh veggies.
Isn’t it interesting that when you follow your suggested guidelines while eating, that you are able to become more present and conscious. This is huge for many reasons. There is a greater chance we will chew our food more if we are paying attention to the textures and flavors, which will increase the digestion, which will lead to being satisfied quicker and won’t eat as much. Hopefully, by becoming aware of the actual taste of foods, we will become more grateful for the abundance of whole foods available to us.
I am just starting a detox cleanse and am planning to implement your ideas afterwards.
Organic fruits and vegetables are beautiful in color and in taste. It’s too bad that Lays potato chips are my weakness 🙂
Interesting, until a while ago I never really thought it was possible to change my food tastes.
One thing I found MAJOR in this was emotions connected to certain foods, such as being forced to eat vegetables, and being made guilty if I didn’t by my parents “I will serve them up for your breakfast if you don’t” all kinds of negativity. And I found that letting go of that with Emotional Freedom Technique my tastes started to change and after not eating vegetables since I was a kid I eat them regularly now and actually enjoy them.
Where before I really HATED them, it is a major shift.
So along with these tips, letting go of the emotions/memories/experiences around foods is very important too.
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