Need a Taste Buds Reset?

July 25, 2017 in Diabetes, Foodland, Health, Psychology of Food, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Of course it’s not everyone, but many people are beginning to understand the problems associated with consuming too much sugar. It’s very motivating to finally be facing a public who has caught the vision of resisting the tempting call of those empty calories of sugar. It’s been a long time in coming. Before I go on with this piece, I want to clarify, I’m not just talking strictly about sucrose – simple table sugar; but all forms of sugar. If you’re aware of the problems with eating too much sugar and don’t need to be motivated to cut back, skip the bullet points below. If you do want to read a bit about How to cut back, start right after the bullet points.

Some Problems with Sugar

  • Since heart disease is still number one, as the leading cause of death in Americans, let’s mention it first. In short, excess sugar, in your bloodstream can affect your arteries. The arteries become stiffer and that makes the heart work harder and can cause damage over time. It can lead to heart attacks, and strokes. One good thing is that lowering sugar intake can help lower blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Teeth were probably the first part of our body that we came to understand sugar’s impact upon.
  • Too much sugar has been linked to joint pain, probably because of inflammation in the body; but also some studies actually show it can increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • High sugar intake has even been linked to depression in adults.
  • Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called “AGEs”, advanced glycation end products. They damage collagen and elastin; ultimately aging your skin.
  • Too much sugar may cause your liver to become resistant to insulin – which may lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • If you eat a load of sugar on a regular basis, your pancreas may stop responding properly to it and pump out way too much insulin. Eventually, the pancreas will not be able to keep up and the blood sugar will rise. This may eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Consuming more sugar is correlated to higher weight. Since I’ve already mentioned diabetes, I won’t list it again, but there are many other problems for the overweight body.

What I’d like to concentrate on today is resetting your taste buds for less sugar. That’s right, as if you have a built in dial, you can set it back to less sugar. Part of the problem is that the more sugar we eat, the more we want. We have become very accustomed to very sweet tasting foods. A study published in 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds that we can reset our taste buds for less sugar over a relatively short period of time. The fact is that even when you’re not scooping sugar out of the sugar bowl, you can be on a high sugar diet. It’s in processed foods. Sure you know that many of the ready to eat cereals are loaded with sugar; but what about pasta sauce; yogurt; salad dressing; granola bars; bread; canned soup; and even tomato sauce? These are only a few examples of hidden sugar. Become a label reader and be alert to added sugar in processed products.

You can create new habits. If you repeatedly eat foods seasoned a certain way, your affinity for those foods will increase even if you don’t like it at first. For example, when you begin eating food with less sugar, you may not enjoy it as much as the highly sweetened version; but you can train your palette to prefer less sweet.

  • One of the most effective techniques for resetting your taste buds for sweetness is to do it gradually. Some researchers have found that doing it cold turkey, can lead to sugar binge later. I’m sure that’s not a universal response, but apparently, enough people have been affected to make note of it.
    • Dilute sodas, regular or diet. The idea is just getting used to less sweetness. Fill a glass up with ice and let it melt into your soda or just add water directly to your beverage. You can do this with juice too. It’s the beginning of getting off sugary drinks and fruit juice. Eating whole fruits with the natural intact fiber is a far slower release of sugar and in addition, has healthy nutrients and fiber.
    • If you’re a frequent dessert eater, you may want to consider the same idea of using gradual changes. Begin with the number of days that you presently eat desserts; then make a new goal. For example, if you have desserts five days per week/ move to two or three. Eventually you may want to consider only one dessert night per week; or desserts only for special occasions. If you have fresh fruit for dessert, that’s a plus. Fresh fruit is not the “dessert” that we’re trying to diminish. One technique that I’ve used for years is to have four chocolate chips after a meal. It makes my mouth taste like dessert, with only about a gram of sugar.
    • Gradually decrease the amount of sweetener in your tea or coffee. However many packets or teaspoons of sugar or sweetener you use, begin decreasing it. The idea is not just to decrease the sugar, but also to get used to less sweetness.
  • If you want to build up your willpower, then whittle down your cookie/candy stash in the house.
  • Stock the house with fresh fruit.
  • Buy unsweetened foods; add your own sweetener. You may be surprised with how little you can get by with. Remember to gradually decrease, whatever you’re presently using.

The big surprise is that you will discover that your taste buds actually acclimatize to the lower sweetness. Both Dr. Victor Bunderson and I have done this experiment. My sweet husband had a real sweet tooth; after cutting back, he eats far less sweet foods now. He says his palette began not long after he cut back, to savor the natural flavors of vegetables and fruits that are disguised by too much sugar and salt. It really works.