5 steps to loving the foods you hate.
How do we come to love certain foods and hate other foods? It is a question I have asked over the last few months in the hope of developing a taste for the “˜good foods’.
I was brought up on a typical Scottish diet of “˜mince and potatoes’, “˜pie, chips and beans’, and a good Sunday Roast. Nothing wrong with that you might say but there weren’t many vegetables in there, or any veg that I would eat. I hated most vegetables when I was younger and that carried on into my adult life.
Now my palatial repertoire consists of a base of: Pasta, potatoes, chips, and the occasional salad. My drinks would be diet Irn Bru, tea with milk and two sugars and coffee with milk and two sugars. Not exactly, the best diet to function properly on.
Back in July, I decided I needed to eat a lot more healthy and decided to eat more vegetables only to find I still didn’t like most vegetables and didn’t like the taste of food that was good for me. Therefore, I carried out some research.
The science of taste and flavour
When I carried out my research, I didn’t expect it to get into it as much as I did. I became fascinated with the science of taste and flavour.
Leslie J. Stein, PhD, from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia states there are many factors, which influence our taste preferences including:
I don’t want to go on about the science aspect of taste, as there is loads of information out there.
What I would like to concentrate on is training your taste buds to like the foods you currently dislike and to dislike the foods you currently like (part 2)
Training your taste buds
As it is with most things in life taste has a psychological aspect to it. I remember loving the taste of marzipan when I was younger, so much so that I decided to eat a big block of it. Now for some reason I feel sick whenever I smell marzipan. What happened was I associated the sick feeling with the taste of marzipan. That is what we are going to use to train our taste buds.
Loving the foods you hate
Over the next few weeks, if you are willing, we are going to overcome the habit of only eating the foods you have become accustomed to. I will give you five steps for doing this and it would be great if you could report back how you get on with the experiment. It may take longer than a few weeks for some foods it may be a lot quicker for others. Either way it will be a good journey and your palette will get a good workout.
- Step 1:
Write down a list of foods you are not keen on at the moment. Start with a list of 10 or so.
- Step 2:
Now out of the list of ten pick the one that is the best of the bunch.
- Step 3:
For the next few days play the food up in your mind. As an example, I will tell you what I did to like sweetcorn (I picked sweetcorn to experiment with, as I hated it when I was younger).
- For a few days I told myself the benefits of eating sweetcorn: it’s good for you, it’s filling, it tastes good, it’s healthy etc etc. This then put a wanting in my mind, it’s as if your mind says you’ve got to have it. It’s important at this stage to overcome the “˜cognitive dissonance’ part whereby you are telling yourself it’s good but deep down you think it tastes like crap. Overcome this by repeating the benefits of the food you have chosen.
- Step 4:
This is where your imagination comes into it. A few days after I started telling myself that the sweetcorn was good for me I imagined eating it and liking the taste and saying to myself “˜this is actually quite good’ and then going on to eat some more. I imagined the types of food I could have it with; I imagined eating it off the cob with butter melting over it (unsalted of course!). This again creates a wanting in my mind.
- Step 5:
Add your chosen food to your next meal, making sure your next meal is something your really like. For example, I was not keen on sweet corn, so I added it to a plate of Mashed Potatoes, peas, carrots and steak pie with gravy. I mixed it with some mashed potatoes and some gravy. I did this for a few weeks until I could eat the sweetcorn on its own. I don’t get excited when I eat sweet corn now but I can eat it and enjoy the taste.
Adding more foods to your list of likes
I have used the above 5 steps for adding: carrots, turnip, cabbage, tomatoes, celery, green tea, spinach, diet irn bru, tea without sugar, and am working on a few others.
In 1 years time I should have amassed a list of foods I can eat which is healthy for me and which means I have a wider choice of meals to cook.
I am currently writing a follow up to this article entitled:
“˜ 5 steps to hating the foods you love’ which was a lot more interesting and more challenging.
Let me know if you use this and how you get on.