"O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalm 34:8
Yesterday was a good day! I managed to get through "almost" the whole day without giving into the temptation of eating Christmas cookies or Donut King donuts! Sprinkled sugar was literally everywhere, and it sent out subliminal "you want to eat me" messages all day long. But, I stood strong and said NO!
At 9 pm, however, in an act of true stomach hunger, I grabbed two cookies before leaving the office. I mindlessly stuffed them into my mouth, and then stopped to notice that they did not taste as good as they looked. As I went to grab for the third cookie I stopped myself and said, "do you really want to take in more calories on something that doesn't even taste good?" It was a good call, and enough to stop the behavior. This morning, however, I wonder how I would have handled that situation if the cookie actually tasted good. Would I have continued eating more? My hope is that I would not allow taste to control my desired goal of eating healthy! I want to take a moment to hone in to this issue of taste. What is taste?
Here is a summary of the article, "How and Why Your Taste Buds Change Over Time" by Edible Communities, June 30, 2016
Taste is the sensory experience of what happens when a substance enters your mouth. There are five categories of taste: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and savory. Most or our taste buds, receptors that communicate information from our mouth to our brain, are located on the tongue. Children are super sensitive to taste: to avoid potential toxins and to desire sugar. The natural sugars found in fruit draws a person towards a substance that is high in nutrients and energy. Our taste buds die off every two weeks, and get replaced with new taste buds.
Our taste preferences are shaped by what foods we are exposed to and how we associate with those early food experiences. When we taste new foods there is a window to time that occurs before the body learns to accept it. This is called the waiting period of acquisition. This waiting period is also influenced by the emotional acceptability (foods that make us feel good), situational acceptability (food experienced in a situation that feels enjoyable or safe), and physiological acceptability (no digestive upset or allergic reaction). If all these factors are good and acceptable, then we learn to appreciate and desire that substance.
Here is the most interesting thing I found in this article,
"Because what we eat on a regular basis shapes our taste preferences, we can find ourselves less likely to prefer plain vegetables or unseasoned salads. Why? The standard American diet is packed with processed foods, where sugar, salt, and oil abound. Excess consumption of these foods can alter the body’s preference, raising our threshold for tastiness. If we eat tons of salt, we need more salt the next time to approximate the same experience. We see this in kids, in particular. What brain would opt for kale when its most recent experience of Fruity-Cocoa-O’s was so (artificially) delicious? The brain will turn down the kale and elicit cravings for the more intense, pleasurable taste instead."
Oh my God! What is going on with our nation?!?! Why are we eating this way? This MADness has to stop! We have become robots to the Modern American food industry! What brain would opt for kale when it's most recent experience of SUGARY CHRISTMAS COOKIES was so artificially delicious? What brain would opt for baked chicken when it's most recent experience of McDonald's Big Mac Value Meal was so artificially delicious? What brain would opt for water when it's most recent experience of Pepsi was so artificially delicious?
The good news is that we can train our palate and develop an acquired taste for new and different foods. According to the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the biggest predictor of liking something is more about motivation than sensitivity to taste. Combining a new food with a familiar pleasant taste, or with situations that are in themselves enjoyable, reinforces the enjoyment factor. The writer states that we can develop a new taste for a particular food by repeating exposure to it. Also, when we start to learn which foods feel best in our bodies and which are unhealthy for us, we begin to base our food decisions on these qualifiers, rather than strictly on taste. As we shift away from high-sugar, high-salt foods of our younger years, our tastes will adapt to what’s most consistent. When the body isn’t flooded with fructose and artificial sweeteners, things like carrots and beets can start to taste extra sweet.