When it comes to indulgences and our eating habits, it is usually foods with a lot of sugar, salt, or fat. Numerous studies have proved that these foods activate the pleasure centers in our brains, and the more we consume them, the more we want them.
Human taste buds get accustomed to a certain intensity of flavors over time. The perception of taste or flavor is subjective and differs from person to person. Over time, it is natural to build a tolerance to flavor and its intensity, which means that you tend to overeat and indulge in certain foods to enjoy the same feeling of satiety. However, all is not lost. You can retrain your taste buds to respond favorably to a diet with reduced sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
The Word So Far
In the past year, scientists discovered that the sensation of taste is controlled by dopamine, the reward neuromodulator. The research further showed that sucrose has the same pathway as dopamine when it comes to controlling, learning, and memory functions in the body. This experiment was centered around fruit flies and made international headlines. It concluded how sugar could leave behind a ‘molecular’ memory.
Studies have shown that when you decrease the quantity of salt and fat you’re eating, you are likely to eat less in the future. Think of this as a reset for your taste buds and their baseline intensity to foods and flavors. Another study found that participants on a low-sugar diet for four weeks found foods to be noticeably sweeter.
Altering how our taste buds respond to foods takes time, and this adjustment period may only sometimes be comfortable for everyone, especially when starting. According to the study, after cutting out excess sodium from the diet, participants found foods too salty within a week or so. The ultimate goal is not to eliminate all sugar, salt, or fat from the diet – your body requires these to function regularly. Instead, it is to recalibrate your taste buds so your cravings fall within healthy limits.
Here are a few helpful tips to reduce sugar in your diet:
- Sauté or roast your veggies to enhance their natural sweetness
- Spices like nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, etc., are a great way to add flavor and increase the natural sugar content in foods.
- Replace store-bought pasta sauces, salad dressings, and dips with a low-sugar alternative, or learn to recreate these at home. Substitute instead of skipping when resetting your taste buds.
- Swap out sugary desserts with Medjool dates that are way healthy and naturally sweet to satiate cravings.