Our tastebuds have become accustomed to the oversaturated flavours of processed foods. It leaves us unsatisfied with healthy foods and reaching for junk foods in order to fill our taste desires. It takes time to unlearn and change our taste buds to crave and become satisfied with healthy food choices. Every two weeks or so, our taste buds naturally expire and regenerate like any other cell in the body.
Foods addiction is real
Similar to drug addiction some doctors believe that people are also driven and addicted to eating unhealthily and even certain foods like cheese, chocolate and sugar. Neal Barnard, MD, author of “Breaking the Food Seduction” and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says he believes that cheese, meat, chocolate, and sugar are addictive foods in the diets of millions of people. Just like drugs and alcohol, these foods contain chemical compounds that stimulate the brain's secretion of opiate-like, "feel-good" chemicals such as dopamine, which drive our cravings for them.
Understanding that you can be addicted to foods means you have to treat the process of weaning off foods slowly and compassionately. Trying to break an addiction and suffering withdrawal from these foods is not easy, so take it slowly and work at it diligently.
Are your tastebuds the same?
Is your favourite food from childhood still the same? If not, how is it different from your current favourite?
Similarly, are the foods you were once repulsed by now desirable?
Ever heard the saying, you'll like it when you're older?
Chances are most of you are nodding your heads right now.
Our gut taste connection
It isn't just our taste buds that dictate what we want to eat. A study titled, "Reduced dietary intake of simple sugars alters perceived sweet taste intensity but not perceived pleasantness" illustrates the difference in an individual’s perceived sweetness and taste reaction to sugar-laden foods. It goes on to demonstrate that the body’s adjustment is actually much bigger than just the taste receptors on your tongue, or even in your mouth. What is involved exactly? Well, it involves everything from your mouth all the way to our guts.
Our gut is our second brain and it constantly changes through our gut flora being fed certain foods and those foods creating certain gut bacteria. Whatever species of gut flora you feed are the ones you’ll get more of. So, if your gut flora predominately comes from unhealthy processed foods than your gut flora will demand more of them. Eating more simple sugars would encourage the growth of gut flora that eat simple sugars; eating fewer simple sugars could reduce the “taste” for sugar by encouraging gut flora that want other types of food.
Evidence suggests that you really do get used to eating less sugar, in particular refined sugar, and that less-sweet foods start tasting sweeter.
This is good news!!
We can encourage the body to prefer more natural, healthier, nutrient dense tastes by shifting our diet to simpler but still delicious foods. We can also use repeated exposure techniques and a varied diet to help retrain our taste buds and gut flora, making healthy eating so much easier. 21days2vegan will motivate you to stay on track as well as providing you with tasty, nutritionally dense recipes and an educational tool designed to provide information and help you make this retraining relearning step easier.
21days2vegan teaches us to listen to our bodies and understand what cravings are actually telling us. What a desire for sugar, salt, and fats actually mean. Whether it's your sweet tooth or a down mood nudging you toward the snack drawer. There's a quick trick to satisfy the urge, without depriving yourself.
"A craving is essentially just a habit you've ensconced in the brain pathway," explains Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic.
What are cravings for salt telling us?
Salt cravings are usually the result of factors such as boredom or stress. Scott Isaacs, MD, medical director of Atlanta Endocrine Associates explains that these cravings can be a sign of dehydration or a mineral or electrolyte imbalance. Understanding and becoming aware of a craving is important, so you can start listening and recognising what your body is trying to tell you.
Having always fed cravings it’s obvious that changing this pattern will be hard. It comes down to discipline and understanding that it takes time for us to learn new behaviours and to recognise what our bodies need to function optimally as opposed to what you feel like eating or indulging in. Take note of how your body actually feels after you indulge your cravings. Does it feel like your body is thanking you and performing optimally, or do you feel sub par and less well than before you indulged.
Our taste buds change, learning to say no to specific cravings and learning to like new foods is critical, and it takes time to do this. Also, understanding that certain cravings arise from vitamin and nutrient deficiencies is necessary, as it'll take time for your body to start properly nourishing itself thus removing those constant cravings you once had.
To find out more about what our cravings are telling us check out the cravings blog.