Did you know, most junk-food cravings are learned over time, based on years and years of exposure? You weren’t just born craving chocolate; that was learned!
But luckily for us, the opposite is also true! You can actually retrain your taste buds to like healthy foods! Here’s how:
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When you see that box of cookies in the break room, it’s hard not to give in, right? The same is true in your home. It’s much easier to eat healthy when the only foods that enter your home are healthy ones! Imagine that! You’ll start looking at the strawberries and think, “wow I could really go for a bowl of fruit” and it will taste great because that processed, sugary Twinkie isn’t sitting there waiting for you to eat it!
2. Make Your Dish Aesthetically Pleasing
A study led by Professor Charles Spence from the Oxford University found that a thoughtful presentation proved that diners found the food to be more flavourful and appear to be more expensive. For example, a filet cut horizontally to show the inner color of the meat as opposed to just placing the whole filet on the plate may trick your mind into thinking it tastes better! In addition to pretty plating, place greens on the right side of your plate, as Americans typically tackle that side first. So, take an extra step to make your food looks just as good as it tastes, and you might find yourself craving healthier dishes!
3. Blend Old With New
Incorporating healthy foods you’re not crazy about into a dish that you absolutely love might help you get over that bad taste in your mouth! If you’re not a huge fan of spinach, incorporate it into a cheesy pasta dish or add it to an omelette! At first you’ll just be masking it’s flavor, but eventually your brain will form a positive association with both tastes, and you’ll begin to enjoy them separately.
4. Try It More Than Once
Studies show that when kids dislike a food but repeatedly try just one bite every so often, they’ll eventually lose that distaste. Surprise; The same holds true for adults! If at first you don’t like it, give it a few weeks and try again. After a few tries, that gross food might not taste so bad. In fact, research shows you may like it!
5. Lower Your Junk Food Tolerance
This one might seem obvious, but it’s important! Eating foods that are high in sodium and sugar can dull your taste buds so you need to keep getting more and more of it to feel satisfied. If you fight the urge and are able to lower your tolerance of these types of foods, over time you won’t need as much of the food to fix your craving. So, a bowl of ripe strawberries might curb your sweet tooth that used to be fixed with a bowl of ice cream! Now, this is not an easy thing to do… so the key is to work at it slowly. Don’t just cut out sugar or salt suddenly. It may take about a month to notice a difference, so stick with it!
6. Don’t Rely on Childhood Memories
If you’ve been avoiding brussel sprouts since you were wearing Winnie the Pooh overalls, you might want to give them another go. Your taste buds as a child were more sensitive to bitter flavors than your taste buds are as an adult. So, give that veggie another try that you’d been avoiding since the word “tubular” was still cool.
7. Ignore Your Sense of Smell
Sometimes, the smell of a food is enough to make your stomach weak (looking at you cauliflower, eggs and tuna!) If the smell of the food is turning you off, try eating it in a separate room from where you made it. This may help you get over the pungent smell and instead enjoy the actual taste of the food.