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How to change your tastebuds so that you don’t crave junk

It’s late, it’s been a really stressful day, and without any real conscious thought I’m standing with the doors of my pantry wide open as I cram chocolate coated Tiny Teddies in my mouth.

At the same time I hunt for chips, then a block of chocolate from the fridge, and to top it off a large handful of salted cashews stuffed into my cheeks like a chipmunk just to get me through on the long walk from the kitchen to the couch.

I am in the full blown throes of a sugar/fat/salt/junk craving, and look out anyone who tries to get between me and my Doritos.

The next day I’m even more tired, cranky, and by mid morning I’m daydreaming about one of those ultra sweet and creamy frappes, maybe with something from the bakery. I’m never going to get through what I need to do today if I’m this tired. I need a sugar hit.

Any of this sounding familiar?

Welcome to the downward spiral of blood sugar spikes and crashes, fatigue and cravings, short attention spans, overreacting to stress, and an overall yucky feeling that lingers. All. The. Time.

If you’ve gotten to the point where you are just sick and tired of feeling like this, the great news is that a whole new way of being, living, and enjoying food is literally just a few weeks away.

That is the amount of time it takes for your tastebuds to change, allowing you to want and actually enjoy healthy foods. Not only this, but those sweet, salty, or fatty foods you used crave will taste too sweet, too salty, or too fatty and you may no longer be able to tolerate more than a bite or two.

Cutting the sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats

I’m not going to lie, at first you are probably going to find your meals are bland, unsatisfying, and you’ll be thinking to yourself that you couldn’t possibly sustain this kind of a diet for even a month let alone the rest of your life.

But what researchers have found is that participants who were put on a low salt diet progressively became more sensitive to the taste of salt as the weeks progressed, so that a soup that contained half the usual amount of salt now tasted just as salty to them as the regular soup, and the regular soup tasted too salty to be palatable.

Another study found that when participants reduced from a high fat intake to a reduced amount that their tastebuds became more sensitive to detecting fat, and they naturally ate smaller amounts of butter, meat, dairy, and eggs.

Same things happens with sugar. I can’t tell you how many times a patient has told me that after cutting down from 2-3 sugars in a cup of coffee to 1/2 a teaspoon or none at all, that if they tried going back to their usual amount of sugar, it just tasted far too sweet and they didn’t enjoy it anymore.

Weight loss as a side effect

When you shift your focus to eating more whole foods and less processed foods you will naturally cut out a lot of the added sugar, fat, and salt in your diet. Choosing lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (without adding salt in cooking), whole grains in breads, crackers, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, or lentils, plus moderate amounts of lean fresh meat, poultry, fish and eggs, milk, low sugar yoghurts, and small amounts of healthy fats like avocado, unsalted nuts, or vegetable oils for cooking or dressings.

The fantastic thing is that a diet primarily made up of these whole foods will actually be much lower in calories, and you may find that weight loss starts to occur naturally without any strict calorie counting or teeny tiny portion restrictions.

 Educate yourself

Apart from pushing through those first couple of weeks where things will seem to taste a little bland (but really aren’t!), the next most important thing to do is to educate yourself on which foods to choose (a lot of so called “health” or “natural” foods are really not that healthy), healthy meal preparation techniques and recipes, and meal planning.

This is why nutrition and cooking workshops are such an important part of our weight loss retreats. Check out the program here if you want to learn more about how our experts at OnTrack could help you reach your health goals.

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