Tastes can change

Tastes can change

By Dr. Elizabeth Klodas

Many patients tell me they dislike certain foods. 

Some of this is genetic. For example, scientists have identified the genetic SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) that, for some people, makes cilantro smell like soap and taste like crushed bugs. 

But even people with this cilantro SNP can learn to enjoy – or at least tolerate – the herb. My mother, for example, has gone from a cilantro hater to someone who purposefully adds it to avocado and fresh salsas. Apparently, tastes can change.

My son is another prime example. Until about age 10, he basically ate nothing but plain noodles. At which point he discovered steak - and never looked back.  In fact, his palate has broadened so much that he is now the most adventurous eater - and chef - in the family. I’m still waiting for him to become an exclusively whole-food plant-based enthusiast, but at least now I have hope.

Did you know our taste buds are constantly renewing themselves, changing out completely every 2 to 3 weeks? This is probably why studies have shown that - with sustained exposure - preferences for certain foods can be modified...typically within 2 to 3 weeks. 

For example, people fed only sodium-free foods began to prefer less salty items over time. And it wasn’t just preference that changed – it was perception. Meaning, they rated foods containing less sodium as being just as salty as the higher sodium foods they had been consuming in the past.

A less drastic way to get yourself to like less salty foods is to start cutting your current salt-laden items with salt free versions. For example, mix your usual salted peanuts half and half with roasted unsalted ones. I guarantee you won’t notice much of a change in salt taste, even though you’ve eliminated half the sodium. You can then progressively keep reducing the salted component until it’s a tiny or non-existent part of the mix. I would wager that if you then try the original full-on salted version, you will find the taste off-putting.

If you have become accustomed to eating processed foods - foods typically high in added salt and sugars – you might initially find our items not salty or sweet enough. But if you just stick with it, you will likely find that within 2 to 3 weeks, you will actually prefer the taste of our whole, real Step One Foods items.

We eat multiple times per day, every single day. So even small changes – like the nut example above – are highly cumulative and can yield significant health improvements over time.  It’s not a matter of perfection – it’s a matter of better.  And I promise that better will eventually taste great!

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