Your Taste Buds Change When You Stop Eating This Type Of Food – Health Digest

The conversation surrounding processed food is a big one, mainly because it seems hard to escape anything that’s processed. From deli meats and cheeses to canned goods, frozen meals, chips, cookies, and sweetened breakfast cereals, there’s a lot of them around, no matter where we go. It is also important to note that there are different kinds of processed foods — ultra-processed and minimally processed, per Healthline

Processed foods contain artificial coloring and flavoring that are, no doubt, quite appealing to most of us. But scientists and healthcare professionals have always maintained that a healthy and balanced diet should be about cutting back on highly processed foods and aiming for whole foods instead. We’re talking fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, fish, and eggs. While it might be okay to consume some processed foods as part of a balanced diet, when you eat a lot of them or eat highly processed foods quite often, you’re putting your body at risk of developing chronic health conditions like heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, obesity, and even cancer, per Harvard Health

If you’ve ever taken the journey of cutting back, you might have noticed your quality of health improve. You’re probably sleeping better, enjoying more energy levels, and even seeing an improvement in your skin. Cutting back on processed foods can change your taste buds, too. Here’s how it happens. 

It is possible to re-train your taste buds

You might not think of your taste buds as something that can be trained, but according to experts, they really are trainable. If your diet consisted mainly of processed foods that are often high in sugar and salt content, your palate would have become accustomed to these flavors and could even start craving them, shared registered dietitian nutritionist Angela Snyder with Houston Methodist. “Food manufacturers are experts at making foods that are highly palatable … Processed foods almost always contain added sugar, salt, and saturated fats at just the right amounts — and these are additives that our palates not only come to expect, but even crave.”

When you first stop eating processed meals, you go through a withdrawal of sorts. You might become irritable and crave what you were used to eating. It can take anywhere from 10 to 15 days to a month for your palate to wean off and reset from what you were used to consuming. But after this, you naturally get used to lower salt and sugar content and may even find previously consumed processed foods to be too salty or too sweet. Snyder called this process “taste bud rehab.” Making sure you stay on track involves commitment and mindfulness on your part. 

How to stay the course with ‘taste bud rehab’

While some people might adjust to stopping processed food consumption completely and moving to healthier options a lot better, others might struggle. It is not necessary to quit everything cold turkey, shared nutritionist Karyn Duggan (via One Medical). Give yourself time to adjust and slowly taper off from the salty, sugary, and fatty foods. If you’re cooking at home, this can mean gradually reducing the salt and sugar content of whatever you make. And if you eat out, look for healthier (yet flavorful) options.

Mara Weber, a clinical inpatient dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, told Health, “Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to transition to a less processed lifestyle. There’s always a learning curve, especially if you’re a junk food junkie.”

To make sure you stay the course, it might also be useful to educate yourself by reading food labels, according to Angela Snyder (via Houston Methodist). Knowledge can be power. Being aware of just how much sodium, sugar, and saturated fat you’re consuming in a day via processed foods can give you perspective. Once you’ve made the switch to whole foods, explore other flavors beyond sweet and salty, added Snyder. Come meal times, practice mindful eating. Relish the new spices and herbs you’re introducing to your taste buds. In time, your palate will be craving the good stuff and will have forgotten all about the highly processed treats.

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