Simple steps to admire healthy food

You probably already know what a healthy diet should look like.

However, eating healthy can be more difficult if you are used to eating a lot of processed foods. If so, you may find even nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables unappealing.

Retraining your taste buds to enjoy more nutritious, minimally processed foods is key to healthy eating.

Fortunately, you can start learning to love nutritious foods that boost your diet and your health right away.

Here are 7 simple strategies to help you retrain your taste buds and eat healthy food.

Practicing mindful eating involves slowing down, listening to your body, and paying close attention to how your food looks, smells, and tastes.

Mindful eating is associated with many health benefits and may be an effective tool for preventing overeating and weight gain (1).

Additionally, it may help you enjoy your meals more and begin to appreciate healthy, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

To get started, reduce any outside distractions during meals by turning off the TV and putting your phone away. Then, slow down while eating and chew each bite thoroughly to savor the dish.

Taking small breaks may help you begin to listen for the signals of hunger and fullness in your body. In turn, recognizing hunger versus fullness may help prevent overeating.

One of the best ways to retrain your taste buds is to start adding delicious new ingredients to your weekly menu.

For example, using unfamiliar spices, such as tarragon, sage, turmeric, fenugreek, and rosemary, may enhance the flavor of healthy foods you don’t normally enjoy, including vegetables, legumes, and lean protein sources.

Experimenting with new foods and spices may also make it easier to reduce your sugar and salt intake, thus improving the overall quality of your diet.

In addition, it can help you discover many new and nutritious ingredients.

In addition to spices, you may want to try colorful fruits like rambutan or pawpaw, as well as unique veggies like daikon, taro, sunchokes, fiddle, and jicama.

One of my favorite ways to diversify my diet is to get an interesting new ingredient from the grocery store every week, then find some complementary recipes to try throughout the week.

Gradually cutting back on processed food is a great way to start retraining your taste buds and incorporating fresh ingredients into your diet.

Eliminating processed foods slowly may be more sustainable than simply cutting them out of your diet all at once. That’s because research shows that depriving yourself of certain foods may increase food cravings in the short term (2And 3).

Start by reducing your intake of chips, crackers, sweets, processed meats, and packaged sweets. You can replace them with healthy alternatives, including foods like dark chocolate, snacks like hummus, chips, and fresh fruits and veggies.

You may want to focus on just one or two ingredients per week to gradually reduce your processed food intake.

At your next meal, try brushing your palate a few times to appreciate the unique flavor of each ingredient.

An easy way is to take a sip of water between bites of different foods rather than switching between side dishes, main dishes, or desserts throughout the meal.

Bread, crackers, and fruit may also help cleanse your palate, making it easier to enjoy each individual component of your meal.

To retrain your taste buds, reducing your intake of sodium and added sugar is crucial.

However, many restaurant meals and store-bought foods are full of sodium and sugar.

Cooking at home lets you control everything on your plate, so you can skip the extra sugar and salt for healthier options.

Moreover, home cooking allows you to get creative and add new and nutritious ingredients to your diet.

For an easy way to get started, try picking a few recipes a week to make at home. Instead, give your favorite restaurant’s foods a delicious twist by making them at home.

Soda is full of sugar and calories, as well as many other unhealthy additives and ingredients.

If you find yourself craving soda, replace it with healthy alternatives such as coffee, coconut water, unsweetened iced tea, or water mixed with fresh fruit.

For something sparkling, sparkling water, soda, and kombucha are great options.

Lots of easy food swaps can help you stop eating junk food without feeling deprived.

For example, vegetable chips made with ingredients like kale, kale, or carrots are a simple alternative to store-bought potato chips.

You can also substitute microwave popcorn, which is often loaded with fat, calories, and salt, for air-popped popcorn and season it at home with your favorite herbs and spices.

Similarly, refined grains such as white rice, white bread and white pasta can be replaced with whole grain varieties to add extra fiber to your diet.

Finally, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, yogurt, or a little dark chocolate instead of sugary foods like cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, and candy.

While healthy diets are easy to visualize, they can be difficult to implement if you are used to eating processed foods that are high in salt and sugar.

Retraining your taste buds and learning to enjoy nutritious foods makes it very easy to follow a balanced diet.

Several simple strategies can get you started helping both your diet and your health.

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