Changing Tastebuds

So, here’s an unexpected side effect of completely cutting sugar from your diet: your tastebuds start to change.

Or, at least mine seem to have. I taste things differently from what I used to. When I eat, I really taste the food. I had some potato salad today and really tasted the potatoes much more than I did before. And they tasted sweet to me! Strange, huh? I notice the natural sweetness of foods now incredibly more than I ever did before. When I have fruit, it tastes so surprisingly sweet. It kind of bursts on my tongue. My daily smoothies are perfectly sweet to me now without any honey. And I’m immediately aware when something has sugar in it. We got some pork barbecue the other day, and when I bit in I instantly tasted the sugar. The meat tasted weird and sweet to me. I’m sure that before it would have tasted just fine, but now, after having successfully detoxed from sugar, it just tasted strange.

All of this makes it much easier for me to avoid foods that I know will make me feel bad, and to enjoy the foods that don’t! So, if you’re starting out, or are wondering if you could make it if you tried, I hope that encourages you. After a while, regular, non-sweetened food becomes much more satisfying than you thought it could be.

I’ve also started to tolerate the taste of Stevia more. I used to think it tasted plain weird and wouldn’t use it, but now the “sweet” of the Stevia is just fine to me. In small doses, at least – in large doses it still tastes weird to me. I realized this had changed this morning when I had my husband try some of my Homemade “Nutella.” He was very aware of the Stevia taste, where I didn’t notice it at all. To me it just tasted good. (So, if you want to try it, you’ll have to taste it for yourself and see. If you find you can’t tolerate the Stevia, you can use honey instead.)

Here’s the problem: How can I create recipes for people who are currently hooked on sugar, or just coming off, when I don’t taste things the way they do anymore?! It might taste good to me, but maybe it wouldn’t to sugar-eaters. I guess I’ll just have to use my family as guinea pigs.

I find all this very interesting. It reminds me of models of people’s brains on drugs, where their pleasure receptors don’t react to normal pleasure anymore because they’re always overwhelmed from the drug. Maybe our normal tastebuds get similarly corrupted by sugar? Maybe we don’t realize that food is a lot more naturally sweet and flavorful than we think because we’ve gotten so used to the overwhelming taste of sugar? 

All this has made me start to think of sugar as a scary sort of menace more than a temptation. It ravages our bodies, corrupts our tastebuds, prevents us from enjoying ordinary food as much, and hooks us on it to the point where we feel like we’re going crazy when we don’t eat it! It’s scary stuff, man. Now, I don’t know that I’ll never cheat again. But I think that when I do cheat, I’ll do it with non-sugar alternatives – palm sugar, honey, maple syrup. Because it’s just not worth it to do that to my body.


2 thoughts on “Changing Tastebuds

  1. Sue

    that’s so true, I’ve being trying to cut sugar and drink unsweetened tea, at first I thought tea with no sugar had no taste, now I can TASTE it and enjoy it a lot.

    1. Rachel Post author

      That’s great! I think a lot of people feel that way at first, but never keep fighting the sugary-drink habit long enough to let their taste buds adapt, so good for you! My husband has been finding the same thing. He’s been a soda addict for all his life, and has been really trying to fight the habit recently. He’s started drinking unsweetened tea with lemon and says he really likes it now, after about a month being off soda, when before he couldn’t stand it. It’s been a huge change for him!

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