How to Retrain Your Taste Buds to Enjoy Healthy Food

January 12, 2008

Does eating healthy mean that you have to eat bland food? At first it does! You see…the reason that healthy food doesn’t taste as good as junk food to many people is that their taste buds are a bit out-of-whack. Overly processed foods and artificial sweeteners create tastes that aren’t present in nature. When you get used to eating this type of stuff, natural wholesome food tastes “boring” in comparison.

woman eating strawberries
[Nikky eats strawberries in between sets of sit ups. The owners of the gym get angry about how messy her workouts get.]

Is Your Tongue Used to “Aggressive” Tasting Foods?

I consider foods like flavored tortilla chips an aggressive food. In the U.S. we have these chips called Doritos with flavors like Nacho, Taco, Extra Spicy, Salsa, etc. They taste like these flavors to a certain extent, but multiplied by 10. Have you ever had Watermelon candy? I have never had a watermelon with a flavor that intense. What about grape flavored? Even things as simple as canned chicken noodle soup are an “aggressive tasting” version of the homemade stuff.

Try to Back off On Aggressive Tasting Processed Flavors

I have been avoiding processed foods as much as possible the past month. I have even cut out diet soda and other zero calorie diet foods with artificial sweeteners. I made a really healthy organic salad the other night with romaine lettuce, carrots, peas, and cucumbers. For a salad dressing I used a combination of rice vinegar and flaxseed oil. I thought it was going to be brutal, but it actually tasted wonderful! I enjoyed the nutty taste of the flaxseed oil and the natural carrot and cucumber flavors. I even enjoyed chewing on the lettuce.

We Need to Retrain Our Taste Buds to Enjoy “Real” Flavors

About a two weeks into the doing the strict one meal per day Warrior Diet, I had a “cheat meal” of just fruit (you are allowed to have fruit only meals every now and then). For some reason the fruit tasted outstanding! Seriously, it was by far the most amazing tasting fruit I had ever eaten. I though it was the fruit, but quickly discovered it was me. I had avoided all candy and artificial sweeteners for two weeks and my taste buds had adapted.

We Were Meant to Enjoy Foods in Their Natural State

We weren’t meant to be bored by these natural foods. These are suppose to taste wonderful to us. An apple or a piece of pineapple should taste amazing to you. You should enjoy eating lettuce with little or no dressing. Bell peppers, onions, celery, carrots, nuts, honey, vegetables, etc…all of these foods should really stimulate your taste buds.

Attempt to Go on a 30 Days Without Processed Foods…You Won’t Go Back!

You will begin to taste subtle flavors in foods that you have never tasted in the past. Man made flavors have nothing on natural flavors! I bought some organic whole grain granola naturally sweetened with honey. I have this stuff handy when I feel like a dessert at night. It blows away any candy I have ever had. Not only does this stuff taste better, it digests better and you feel much better after eating it. Someone who is used to eating sugar filled cereals would probably be really bored with this snack. They may even say it tastes like “saw dust”. It isn’t the cereal that tastes bad…the person eating it has “bad taste”!

“Fitness People” and “Health Food” People Are a Different Group

Typical health food stores attract men and women who focus on “outdoor activities” like camping, biking, marathon running, etc. They don’t really care about appearance for the most part (a lot of these women don’t wear makeup). I don’t like to stereotype, but it is true for the most part. I actually believe that each group could learn something from the other group. I’m a “Fitness Guy” who wants to learn to get healthier off of a natural organic foods instead of relying too much on supplements, but I want to look ripped as well. I don’t want to grow a full beard and wear tie dye. I also like hanging with sexy girls who wear at least some makeup and are into the newest fashions. Let’s make health food stores “Sexy”…they need it badly!

Fitness Tip: Shop The Perimeter of the Store

Most grocery stores are setup in a way that all the natural foods are located around the perimeter of the store. I try to do 90% of my shopping in this area and avoid the aisles as much as possible. In the particular store I shop at they even have a special Health Food area right near the produce. I can do almost all of my shopping in this area now. I also shop at a health food store, but the grocery store by my place is cheaper.

Note:
I recently found a great blog that really focuses on the benefits of eating healthy food. The blog is called Liz Harper Fitness, written by a personal trainer from Australia. Her blog’s tagline is Health & Fitness Tips for People Who Live in the Real World. I like it because she has a lot of articles that focus on healthy food. Anyway…just click the hyperlink and read some of her great posts!

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Rusty Moore

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon January 12, 2008 at 6:59 pm

I bought some organic whole grain granola naturally sweetened with honey. ” — Hey, do you think you could tell me the name of the product you’re describing here? It sounds kind of good, and your post has really motivated me to try to eat healthier foods. :) Thanks, Rusty!

Helder January 12, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Nice post Rusty, you’re 100% right, most people don’t like natural foods simply because they’re not used to, i guess i’m lucky because i’ve always been a fan of healthy natural food, i also eat other foods sometimes, but never too often, besides i’m so used to natural food that i really don´t like much the other stuff.

Bobby January 13, 2008 at 11:10 am

Wow Rusty, you are really coming with the fire in the new year!!!! By the way i havent told you that i read ur site just about everyday. I know exactly what you mean about processed foods ruining taste buds. I havent eaten processed sugars from candy or nacho chips for months. Now i realize how much i crave the taste of an apple. And i can eat nonflavored yogurt and not feel deprived. Now ill soon see if i can eat oatmeal with cinnamon w/out artificial sugar. (I doubt it)

ladylonglegz January 13, 2008 at 12:16 pm

I agree! foods taste SOOO much better in their natural state. lately I’ve even started making my own garlic and roasted red pepper hummus!..It tastes great! And since I make it on my own, Its super low fat and tastes unbelievably great!..I boil a few extra large eggs-scrap the yolk and stuff my amazing hummus inside the egg whites, top a few cilantro leaves on top and you’ve got some scrumptious hummus filled deviled eggs!!

admin January 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm

John,

Sure…let me grab the box. “Golden Honey Granola” Description: Oat Clusters with FLAX and 500mg of Omega 3′s Per Serving

The Company “Peace Cereal” http://www.peacecereal.com

Helder,

I’m beginning to like health food more and more. I’ve always liked the way it made me feel, but now I’m really enjoying the flavors as well.

Bobby,

I doubt I’ll go back to eating junky processed stuff. Of course, I will every now and then, but the majority of the time will be healthy foods.

Rusty

admin January 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Ladylonglegz,

You are making me hungry! I love cilantro.

Rusty

Annalisa January 13, 2008 at 2:42 pm

My best friends mom is a health nut and she’s made this arguement to me so many times! It’s totally true though. Although, being vegan I eat a lot of fruit – mostly apples, oranges, and strawberries. Is that a bad thing? I know fruit has a lot of sugar but I thought that because it’s natural that it wasn’t so bad

Hulbs January 13, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Spot on again Rusty.

I’ve been a healthy eater for over 5 years now and its to the point where the thought of eating certain junk/processed foods is not appealing to me at all.

When my wife am I do grocery shopping the trolley is full of fresh fruit, veges, a little meat and soy, whole grain breads, low fat yogart etc etc and absolutely no soft drink, chips, lollies, and other highly processed foods. I notice by looking at other trolleys that we are in the ‘minority’ which is kind of sad.

I prefer the taste of food in its natural state and to me a garden salad of tomato, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, capsicams (bell peppers for you guys) and olives with no dressing added tastes wonderful and is great way to ‘fill up’ without using a lot of calories.

p.s. thought i’d go from Jason to my nick name Hulbs as another user using Jason before me already.

Quinn January 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

I laughed out loud when I read this post. About a year ago, my doctor put me on a fairly strict non-processed food diet for. The hardest thing was giving up the artificially sweetened diet sodas, but after we did, my husband and I couldn’t believe how good normal food tasted! And we haven’t gotten jaded over the past 12 months, either! Great post, you are cutting edge as always.

katie January 13, 2008 at 4:16 pm

This is a great post Rusty.. thanks, i’ll be keeping your advice in mind.

Mark@NewSuccessOnline.com January 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm

You know, it’s really true that when you cut out sweets and processed foods, your craving for them goes away.

I’ve had this experience and so have many others. I think we’ve talked about that here before.

Good reminder for me as I ate a lot of chocolate over Christmas. Love dark chocolate. Oh well, time to get back on track.

Take care, Rusty.

katie January 13, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Also I was wondering what you think of eating low-fat peanut butter as part of my meal in the 4-hour nighttime window. I love this stuff but when I eat it I usually have about 200 calories of it (3 tb) either on whole-wheat toast or with an apple, and it’s quite high in fat. I’ve read that peanut butter is good, that it’s bad, that only natural is good, that only almond butter is good, that it’s only ok sometimes … which is it?? I’d love a straight answer!

admin January 14, 2008 at 2:16 am

Annalisa,

Fruit is great for you. Some people consider it the perfect food. You should read an interesting post I did on this one about people who ate an all fruit diet (nothing else).

Incredible Fruit Facts

Hulbs,

That is cool…I bet you will be the only “Hulbs” on the site…good deal. Yeah…I’m just beginning to go for the natural foods. I can get really defined off of synthetic food, but I know in the long run the real stuff is better for me. The sad thing is that the processed stuff is much cheaper…go figure! I guess it reinforces the idea that the processed food has cheaper ingredients. I guess you have to pay for quality to a certain extent.

Quinn,

I’m doing my best to find approaches that are the quickest and most effective ways to get lean, slim, and sexy. This is an approach that will make you healthier as well. Plus all of the natural phytonutrients and antioxidants found in healthy foods will keep you looking good as you get older. I guess it is cutting edge for a typical fitness site to talk about this, because most are too “supplement” focused and don’t pay enough attention to the power of natural foods.

On the flip side, the problem with the typical sites that focus on “organic foods” is that the guys don’t seem like “manly men” to me. I feel like that those are the guys who hold hands around a campfire singing “Kum Bah Ya My Lord…Kum Bah Yaaa”. With slightly manly looking women who don’t believe in wearing anything “girlie”. I don’t mean to be harsh, but do you know where I’m coming from?

Mark,

I am going to do a post on dark chocolate as well as red wine on one of my posts. Both of these are great in moderation.

Katie,

All natural peanut butter is good for you. It has healthy fats that your body needs. Typically this is the type of peanut butter that you have to mix before eating. The oil is at the top. I’m going to do a post on alternating high protein and higher fat days with lower fat higher carb days. I’ve been researching some of this stuff the past few weeks. Feel free to eat peanut butter, but pay attention to the overall calories that it adds, since it is a calorie dense food.

Rusty

Helder January 14, 2008 at 9:55 am

Hi Rusty, i really like your idea of doing a post about red wine, being portuguese i apreciate red wine, we have a long tradition of being wine producers (like all south europeans), and recent studies have proved that red wine have benefits to the heart, and it reduces the bad cholesterol. Of course it has to be consumed with moderation, doctors here usually tell us to drink 2 red wine glasses a day. I only drink in more special ocasions. I’ll be waiting for your post about wine.

admin January 14, 2008 at 11:09 am

Helder,

I am naturally a beer drinker, but I’m learning to enjoy wine more. It is great stuff, and I’ve been studying…so I’ll post about it soon.

Rusty

Hulbs January 14, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Rusty,

A story on red wine would be great.

I mean like yourself beer is my favorite alcoholic drink (i mean what would you expect from any ozzie bloke!) and what I drink at the pub with mates etc.

But what i do is drink 1 glass of red wine with my dinner most nights. I love it!

Also I am genetically predisposed towards having high blood pressure but I’ve been able to lower it in the last 12 months without the use of drugs. I think my glass of red a night is one thing that has helped my do this, along with really cranking up my exercise plan, eating at least a bannana a day (potasium) and having a pet dog! for stress relief.

Coming to think of it maybe you could some day post something more specifically on blood pressure?

Cheers

Hulbs

Lorna January 14, 2008 at 5:05 pm

This article is so true. Most process foods are loaded with salt, fat, and sugar so the REAL food tastes bland and boring by comparison. In fact, it is our own mind that is programmed to like artificial, extreme flavors that we were not meant to eat. Thanks.

Lorna

admin January 15, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Hulbs,

I’m not an expert on blood pressure by any means, but I will certainly research it and write about my findings. Again…I need to go to Oz. I’m genetically predisposed towards liking beer, girls in skimpy bikinis, and beaches :)

Lorna,

Real food is starting to taste so much better to me now. Nature has way more complex, yet subtle flavors than all that processed stuff. I’m glad I have the ability to enjoy them now!

Rusty

za kin January 15, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Why do healthy foods taste bland and look boring? What are the reasons?

what does regular diet mean?

What are some ways to make healthy foods appetising?

Jon January 15, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Awesome, thanks for the healthy treat Rusty :) I’m going to search for some around my area.

hawk-eye January 16, 2008 at 10:14 pm

hey rusty,

i, as well as all of your other readers, swear by this site. i dig where you’re coming from on essentially everything you offer. the bloated muscle look is dead, and you are serving notice that an evolution is immenant.

i myself am 24 years old, and cut out all processed food about three years ago. consequently, a fuji apple with some peanut butter tastes like a miracle every time!

i might add that this is especially easy for me as i work at a small organic food store in downtown san francisco, where yes, girls wear little makup but are sexy and hip as hell. a typical snack for me around there is a handful of brussel sprouts, green beans and pumpkin seeds. nothing boring about that, i say.

anyways, you’re the man, keep inspiring.

hawkeye

admin January 16, 2008 at 11:07 pm

hawkeye,

Yeah…the organic food stores are starting to attract a much younger and hipper crowd…especially on the West Coast…as well as Miami and New York as far as from what I’ve read. I live in downtown Seattle which is basically just a smaller version of San Francisco. You have a good gig working at an organic food store…I must say I’m a bit jealous.

I am starting to see tons of readers from the Bay Area as well as San Diego, New York, and Miami. I think the coastal regions of the US. are influenced by European fashions and styles more than the larger cities of the mid-west and south like Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, San Antonio, etc…consequently I don’t have quite as many regular readers from those cities.

I do have a decent reader base from Vegas and Austin, but I think it is because of those cities get transplants from all over the world.

The bulky look is dying a slow and painful death…I’m just trying to put it out of its misery…LOL!

Thanks for the compliments!

Rusty

Patrick April 23, 2008 at 12:05 am

Hey Rusty:

I’m assuming that something like Cinnamon Toast Crunch would not be a clean, unprocessed food. In addition, Raisin bran is probably not as healthy as something like Kashi flakes with raisins thrown in?
In General, do you think Kashi would qualify as a relatively clean cereal?

Also, do you think that vitamin water is clean? (I’m guessing no… By the way, I only drink it because it tastes good, not for any “vitamins”… It’s basically instead of soda… I probably drink 4/week, but I’m thinking about cutting it out completely.

Thanks a lot!
-Patrick

admin April 23, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Patrick,

Kashi might be okay, but rice cakes have been shown to shoot up the blood sugar big time. You know what is good…Grape Nuts.

An occassional Vitamin Water is okay. I had one yesterday and I think it was 125 calories. I would avoid liquid calories if possible, it is just an added source of calories that you don’t need. The only exception for me is the occassional beer…but I plan for that by eating less leading up to gong out with friends and having a beer.

Love Cinnamon Toast Crunch, by the way…but it is basically a dessert, not a meal.

Rusty

Patrick April 23, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Dang Rusty, I forgot about Grape Nuts! This is great, I love grape nuts. Maybe I’ll mix grape nuts with Kashi.

Thanks!
-Patrick

Denise B September 6, 2009 at 10:59 am

You are absolutely correct about people having “bad taste”.

I ate nothing but processed and junk food when I was younger and “healthy” food was b o r i n g.

I now eat almost no processed food, no candy, no sweet drinks. It is amazing how good real food tastes. On that rare occasion when I think I want candy, I find it to be overwhelmingly disgustingly sickening sweet, not at all like I remember it tasting. And things that used to be boring are amazing, even salad with no dressing.

Missy May 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Mmmmm.. this is reminding me of all these yummy salads that I like.. they’re not boring at all! They feel like a treat to me when I am eating them.. I usually like to use spinach or mixed greens leaves.. the darker, the better.
almonds, strawberries & feta cheese salad w/ a creamy poppyseed dressing
apples, craisins (dried cranberries) & chicken salad good w/ a mandarin vinegarette dressing
hard-boiled egg, bacon, cucumber, cherry tomatos, feta cheese & balsamic vinegarette dressing

I love eating frozen fruit too.. great replacement for ice cream. blueberries, blackberries, raspberries & mangos that melt on my tongue.. yum!

Food Insurance December 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Great tips, I love it. I know some kids whose taste-buds I need to retrain ;0)

Roberta Saum July 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I totally agree with this article. On my long quest for weight loss and better health I had gone all organic for a time, and I had cut out processed sugar for health problems. Even though now I’m not so strict about being all organic, it’s changed the way I eat forever. I love just salads with simple homemade dressing, along with meat and fresh bread and other foods. YUM. Real food is delicious. :)

Camille August 3, 2012 at 7:27 am

I agree and am planning to blog about this topic also. When I was younger I ate a lot of processed foods and rarely drank plain water without adding Koolaid or some other kind of drink crystals. Over the years I have gradually weaned myself off these salty, sugary food and beverages. After eating healthy for many years, I actually find those artificial foods somewhat repulsive. It is amazing how marketers have convinces such a huge portion of the population that food is not good enough the way nature made it!

Maya March 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

You don’t even see the irony of your own statement. Just as we need to train ourselves to appreciate natural foods by eating only natural foods, we also must train ourselves to appreciate the natural human body. If girls stopped covering their faces in powders and goops and stopped getting surgeries and extensions and all this awful stuff, women would be truly beautiful again. Women these days are just like those doritos. They are a million times exaggerated from their natural state but also have less substance and a mechanical, unnatural feel to them. How do you not see the clear, obvious similarity between those two things? If you truly want to appreciate this earth and nature, instead of processed human waste, you need to view makeup and surgeries and human alteration as the processed by-product that it is. Very few people these days really know what hair looks like without colors and gels and sprays. Or what skin looks like without a fake tan and oils and waxing and bleaching. You only ruin the experience for yourself, just as with food.

Jasoon April 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

I have to mainly agree with maya, as long as the girl doesnt take the natural look back to hairy pits and legs amd still bathes regularly and doesnt smell like petchulli (sp?). My girlfriend is trying to teach me the benefits of healthy food and I have been eating better, she neclver wears make up and only colors her hair when some gray comes in. I think the hair dying is done bc she doesn’t like to draw attention to herself and we as a couple (white 25 y/o male and african/white/native american/carribean 41 y/o female) tend to getclooks anyway when out in public. I am really liking the natural flavors eating a lot more fruit and making sure any meats are organic and free from antibiotics and hormones, still working on the veggies. Since starting to read your blog Rusty, I have lost 13 lbs 3% bf and increased all of my lifts. I like to do low rep low volume heavy lifting followed by 12×5 hanging power cleans or 3×100 hindu squats (I hate running and love leg lifts adding yoga to keep leg muscles long and lean and I dont lift legs more than once every 2 weeks) then after the weights and HIIT I do an extra 3×5 of bicep curls and one arm military press or dumbell press. I am currently 5′ 10″ weighing 165 at 14% bf starting to see where the abs are under this blubber! Lol. I do know that I need to add some lean mass, my goal is to get to 170 lbs 8% bf. Do you have any suggestions to tweak my workout? I do a 2 day split on lifting with the leg lifting once every other week on a typical rest day. Last time I ran at all my foot came down where a brick was missing on the sidewalk and I partially tore my anterior tibius. I am admittedly a little gun shy about running again.

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