Why don’t I like the taste of so many healthy foods? If I know that something is bad for me, why do I still eat it? And why would my body crave something that will have a negative impact on it?
We develop the habit of having what we want when we want it, and in doing so we lose the desire to eat the things that we don’t have to eat. Even our taste buds are subject to habit. Ever heard of the term “acquired taste”? Well, if you expose (or withhold) yourself enough, you can acquire (or lose) any taste you want.
This is a sensitive topic for me personally because up until recently I believed that I was listening to my body. In truth, I was actually listening to bad gut bacteria and spoiled taste buds.
It started with me growing up on a wholesome diet and being taught by my mother to listen to my body. As a child, if I was unreasonably grumpy, she would ask me if I felt like I needed something to eat or if something I had eaten made my tummy uncomfortable. I was forced to communicate with my system. However, it is also very important to know that in my case there was no spare cash for the sweets and snacks that could fill my gut with bad bacteria. I did not yet have a sugar dragon in my body coercing me to feed it.
Fast forward to my teens, I moved to a different continent to live with my father. He had all the best intentions for me but was unaware of the effects of bad foods on the body. New to the world of chemically boosted flavours, I went wild. I didn’t put on much weight and felt fabulous every time I consumed something enhanced. Plus, my body started begging me for more of this yumminess, and I had taught myself to listen. So I just kept going. Oblivious to the growing bad-bacteria monster in my gut.
As a young adult, I had developed a pallet for all these yummy intensified flavours. In the world around me healthy eating was fast becoming a thing. But that was all in the background for me. I never listened, because I felt fine and so believed that none of it applied to me. Why would I eat something as flavourless as cabbage when I don’t need to? My desire for bad food had me thinking just like an addict, “my situation is different” or “my body requires a higher sugar intake than others”.
Converting to Healthy Foods
Once I realised how much of my eating desires were unnatural, I could work towards breaking my eating habits. I needed to change the way I looked at food. I stopped trying to make healthy versions of unhealthy foods and rather replaced them with something totally different. So, for example, instead of trying to get my hands on gluten-free pasta, I started experimenting with cabbage. In the beginning it seemed boring, but then I started to notice that there is an almost infinite number of ways to cook with cabbage. The more I experimented, the more I ate cabbage, and the more I grew to love it. Now, to the dismay of some family and friends, I don’t even like pasta. I find it heavy and flavourless, and my body has learned to associate its taste with discomfort, so I don’t even crave it anymore.
Something beautiful started happening to me. I stopped wanting things when I wasn’t supposed to eat them. I started to develop (or regain) a healthy natural communication with my digestive system. My body had started to work the way that it was designed to.
Keep at It
In the early stages of a transfer to healthy foods, depending on how unhealthy you were eating, you may experience die-off. It is a horrible thing to go through but does not last long. And once your pallet starts adapting, simple foods that seemed tasteless before will fill your mouth with flavour. My favourite example is carrot. Try not to eat anything sweet for a couple of weeks and then have a bite of raw carrot, you won’t believe the taste!