Is it possible to change your taste buds and learn to like healthy foods? The answer is a resounding YES.
First up, identify which kind of taster you are:
You love…foods with strong flavours like chilli or pepper? Do you add lashings of salad dressing when others would find it to tart?
You love… subtle, simple flavours and moderate textures – you’re not the one sucking down slimy oysters.
Step 1: Start small
If you struggle to eat biter foods, try white cabbage rather than broccolo when introducing more leafy greens. Work up to bitter salad greens like endive.
Step 2: Stage your changes
“Most people find that reducing (not eliminating) foods like saturated fat, sugar and refined carbs works best if done gradually,” says Waters. Try these tiptoe trades:
Chocolate: Don’t go straight from Dairy Milk to 80 per cent cocoa. Instead, buy a six per cent cocoa dark chocolate and build up over weeks/months to an 80 per cent one.
Bread: Fairy bread queen? The leap into multigrain could prove too much. Instead try a white fibre-enriched bread, ease up with a sandwich with one slice of white and one of brown to help you adapt to the taste and texture.
Sweet drinks: Reduce sugar in your tea from two teaspoons to one then to half then to none. Dilute juice with water until you only need a dash for flavour and then cut it out.
Oils: If you’re a butter fan, don’t jump into a dark olive oil. A light one will have a more subtle flavour, allowing your taste to adjust.
Step 3: Serve the same food different ways
Vegie-phobe? Start by grating them into meatballs or adding a few more to your stir-fry. Alternatively, try a different cooking method. You mightn’t like boiled cauli but like it baked with a wholegrain crumb or roasted with olive oil. Experiencing things you think you don’t like in a new way might change your tune.
Step 4: Pre-commit
Here’s where you play drill sergeant to dodge temptation to fall back into old habits (10 exposures, remember?). “Avoid an abundance of unhealthy food at home and then you will have no choice but to adapt your taste buds to the healthier choices,” Roura advises.
Step 5: Experiment with combos
“When cooking at home, make healthy food taste great by combining tastes like umami (e.g. mushrooms or soy sauce) with sour (e.g. lemon juice).” says Roura. “This more complex taste stimulation is likely to enhance your fullness and satiety.” Theory goes that you’ll enjoy the food more and feel more satisfied.