Mindfulness of Taste
What makes you go “yummmmm!”? Foods that you say “taste good” are generally ones you have been conditioned to like by your exposure to them. And, unfortunately, when exposed to food with high amounts of sugar, fat, and salt, your taste buds have become altered to crave these more and experience them as “tasty.”
The craving for food that is not healthy for us can happen pretty quickly in a culture where food is laced with chemicals and extra sugar, fat, and salt. However, when people move from being mindless eaters to mindful eaters, they begin to notice the affect of this type of food on their bodies and minds. Too much sugar ends up in creating a drop in mood and energy later in the day. Too much fat can make your stomach feel queasy. Too many chemicals and over-processing of food doesn’t satisfy or give us energy. On the other end of the spectrum, people who get conditioned to eating “diet foods” also lose the taste for real food. When they allow themselves to eat real food again they realize what they have been missing out on. If you don’t believe me, put a real meal (unprocessed and fresh) beside a packaged frozen dinner and do a taste test for yourself.
Many people in the classes I teach report that as they start to pay more attention to the taste of food they begin to eat healthier, because healthy food begins to taste better. The good news is that our bodies are smarter than we are and are naturally designed to recognize and respond to foods that are grown in nature.
My suggestion would be to start slow. Take one step at a time. In Susan Albers book “Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful” she suggests doing little experiments instead of trying to make too many changes at once. For example, if you are hooked on sugary cereal, try switching to a brand that has a little less sugar. After you get used to that, switch to one that is even lower in sugar.
My own experience with this process is that over time, my body actually craves healthy fruits and vegetables and I find they taste better than anything else. My suggestion would be to find restaurants in your town that are vegetarian or that serve food that is mainly fresh and local. These restaurants are more likely to serve unprocessed, healthy food. They also may be good at preparing healthy foods in a way that tastes good to you if even if you haven’t been used to eating this way. Notice what you feel like after you eat a meal there. I always feel like my belly is smiling when I eat healthy food (like the one pictured above that I just ate today). Yummm!
Bottom line: “Mindfully adapt” your taste buds to relearn the yummy taste of healthy food.