Ask the Dietician: Train your taste buds to enjoy the taste of eating right

| March 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
Capt. Bell

Capt. Bell

Capt. Carla Bell
Tripler Army Medical Center

HONOLULU — Want to enjoy the taste of healthy foods?

No matter what kind of eating habits you grew up with, you can learn to enjoy eating healthy foods.

Since childhood, you may have even learned to associate both positive and negative experiences with particular foods. For example, when a certain food is offered as part of a celebration, (i.e., birthday cake) it enhances the preference for that food. On the other hand, using food in order to get a reward or bribe (i.e., “if you finish your broccoli, then you can go play”) usually creates a negative food association.

The best way to learn to like those foods you associate as negative (i.e., vegetables) is to teach your taste buds to enjoy healthy foods since they are important in our diets.

Our taste buds are found in our tongue, roof of the mouth, throat and stomach. The average adult has 2,000 to 10,000 taste buds. Our taste buds dictate why we favor certain foods, especially fat and sugar.

However, taste and flavor are not the same thing. Taste is what our taste buds pick up: salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory taste bud). Flavor is the combination of taste plus smell. Additionally, our taste buds are a tool for survival. Your taste buds can easily acclimate to the taste of new foods, simply by introducing them to new healthier foods on a regular basis.

On average, it takes six to eight weeks to change your palette, but in some cases, it can happen sooner. All you have to do is make a habit out of adding a side of vegetables to your meals and snacks.

VegetablePlate_wSo why do we think twice about eating more vegetables in our diet, particularly knowing they are good for us? Yet, we do not put much thought into eating the highly saturated fat, sugar and salt foods in our mouths? Over time, we have become used to eating those convenience foods (which may be high in harmful chemicals) and have adapted to that taste.

Most Americans eat less than half of the amount of recommended vegetable servings. It is not until we see other people enjoying different foods or are introduced to foods with vegetables that we try them, too.

Vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It simply just takes the right preparation of those vegetables on your “yuck” list to change your mind.


Develop a Plan
Here’s a daily plan with tricks for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that will save some calories and help you get going to the taste of eating right every day.

Breakfast. You should never skip breakfast or the first meal of the day! For a healthy breakfast option try an egg white omelet or breakfast skillet with spinach, onions, tomatoes and bell peppers, with a whole grain English muffin and Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.

Choosemyplate_green_wLunch. Try a whole wheat sandwich or wrap with your favorite meat, low fat cheese, spinach, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers and shredded carrots, or simply using fresh or steamed vegetables as side dishes to your main entrée.

Snack. Try fresh fruit or fresh cut veggies by themselves or with plain Greek yogurt, hummus or light dressing.

Dinner. You should aim for half of your plate to be full of colorful veggies! Use green, leafy and colorful veggies to bulk up your meal to help the temptation of eating more servings of starchy veggies or pasta that are not whole grain (quinoa, brown rice or farro).

Learn More
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Category: Community, Health

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