5 of the Best Ways to Retrain Your Taste Buds
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Avena
Many are aware that the food industry works overtime to make unhealthy products irresistible to consumers.
Marketing or Brainwashing?
Consider the slogans on food packaging and TV/internet ads:
- “I’m lovin’ it”
- “They’re gr-r-reat!”
- “Finger lickin’ good!”
- “They’re magically delicious!”
- “The Breakfast of Champions”
- “Betcha can’t eat just one!”
Many food companies have intentionally designed these catchy jingles and phrases to target the pleasure centers in your brain. In a very real sense, many people are being brainwashed by these slick marketing campaigns.
Discovery of the “Bliss Point”
Research on what produces cravings has been conducted for decades now. In 1970, mathematician Howard Moskowitz discovered the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat that would enhance the brain’s pleasure experience. He called it the “bliss point.”
Triggering the bliss point can increase sensory experiences, such as taste, and can activate areas of the brain that are associated with motivation and pleasure. These are the same areas that are influenced by addictive drugs such as cocaine, nicotine, and morphine. Knowing all of this, the sad truth is some companies design foods to hook your brain in a similar way that drugs do.
Hijacking Your Taste Buds
It isn’t an overstatement that the food industry has hijacked the taste buds of many in our society. There are several ways to provoke cravings, which can contribute to addictive responses to foods. Here are a few:
- Aroma – Humans have five major taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or savory. Though many foods target our taste buds, flavors also can be enhanced by our sense of smell. Smells can trigger cravings, like movie theater popcorn.
- “Crunchiness” – Four pounds per square inch is the ideal breaking point to produce crunchy pleasure.
- “Meltiness” – Foods that quickly melt in your mouth can trick the brain into thinking there are fewer calories, which may encourage you to eat more of these foods.
- Satiety – Satiety occurs when a person feels full while eating a meal. Some foods, particularly those with lots of added sugar, can override these satiety signals and fool your brain into thinking you aren’t full when you are.
- Sugar – Sugar has been found to be an addictive substance that prompts bingeing, reward-seeking, and craving. Unfortunately, even many “healthy” foods are filled with hidden sugars that can fuel cravings and mood issues.
- Texture – Some major store brands and fast-food restaurants alter the texture of the foods to make them taste more palatable, and as a result, they can end up containing less fiber than desired. Unfortunately, a lack of fiber in the diet may contribute to stomach problems, abdominal pain and discomfort, or poor gut health.
Is It Your Fault?
You may feel like a lack of self-control or portion control is your fault. But how can you have self-control when food companies have been using sophisticated neuroscience to plot against your diet, and your brain, for decades?
Since food can play such a huge role in your physical and mental well-being, it’s vital that you do everything you can to support your diet and brain health. Here’s how to retrain your taste buds by controlling the food you put in your body…
5 of the Best Ways to Retrain Your Taste Buds
1. Set the Tone
The first meal of the day is crucial in setting the tone for what you’ll eat the rest of the day. Avoid sugar – in bread, jams, and orange juice – which can give you a quick energy boost followed by an energy crash.
Eating protein (eggs, lean meats) with your morning meal can help stabilize your blood sugar. Also, adding green veggies and some low-glycemic fruit (berries and apples) to a protein smoothie is a healthy way to start your day.
2. Boost Your Produce
It’s recommended that you eat fruits and vegetables from the full spectrum of colors and flavors, such as blueberries, pomegranates, squash, and bell peppers. Eating these foods can provide power-packed flavonoids, antioxidants, and an array of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary for good health.
It’s recommended to eat up to eight servings of fruits and veggies a day. Although sugar from fruit is considered healthy (as opposed to added sugars in cereals and baked goods), make sure you’re getting a good balance of fruits and vegetables; a two-to-one ratio of vegetables to fruits is recommended.
3. High-quality Protein
It’s recommended that you eat some high-quality protein with every meal and snack (at least every 4 to 5 hours). Protein helps to balance blood sugar levels and can help decrease cravings. You’ll likely feel fuller longer and burn more calories when eating a protein-rich meal or snack than you will eating high-carb, sugar-filled foods.
Nuts, seeds, and legumes are good sources of protein. Many meats, including wild-caught fish and free-range poultry, are rich in protein and amino acids. Be sure to shop for animal protein that’s free of hormones and antibiotics.
4. Get More Fiber
Fiber should be taken along with protein to ensure a balanced, nutritious meal. Getting sufficient fiber in your diet can help support healthy digestion, heart health, bowel regularity, stable blood sugar levels, and weight loss.
Fiber absorbs water and creates bulk, which can increase the time it takes for food to move out of the digestive system. The longer food stays in your system, the fuller you’ll feel and the less likely you’ll be to experience the spike in blood sugar that occurs when food digests quickly and glucose is dumped right into the bloodstream.
5. Healthy Swaps
A great way to retrain your taste buds is to replace simple sugars and refined carbs with healthier options. For example, swapping candy for a square of sugar-free dark chocolate can help you kick a sugar habit.
Rather than a candy bar or energy drink, enhance your energy with a healthy snack like two slices of lean deli turkey and a dozen grapes. This well-balanced snack is high in protein and fiber and should tide you over until your next meal.
Reimagine Your Diet
Improving your diet will help you get the proper nutrients your body needs. One of the best ways to retrain your taste buds is to replace fatty foods and sugary snacks with nutritious foods, including high-quality protein, healthy fats, and fortifying fiber.
Try the above tips and feel free to share them with your friends and family.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
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