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  • Dr. Nancy

5 Tips to Train Your Taste Buds to Love Healthy Foods

Perhaps you've been eating an abundance of processed foods for so long you aren't sure how you're going to suddenly skip to a refrigerator filled with colorful produce. Your brain and taste buds have been hijacked!

It's little wonder that it's hard to stop munching chips and sugary snacks when that's what your brain and taste buds have learned to love, and the solution lies in retraining your taste buds and ultimately your brain. The good news is that you can give them a taste of healthy foods and start getting them to crave those rather than the sweet, sugary things you may be used to instead.

Awaken Your Taste Buds

Just like building up stamina at the gym, it takes time to personalize your food strategy and get your taste buds to recognize how delicious healthy foods can be. Soon, a better mood and better health will follow in its wake.

Here's how to go about shifting your perception and craving those good-for-you foods instead!

1. Baby Steps

Start slow. Go step-by-step. Most of us will be setting ourselves up for overwhelm if we try to go from a daily trip through the McDonalds drive-thru to steamed, raw, and healthy overnight. Start working in healthier foods while phasing out the unhealthy stuff so that the shift is more gradual. This gives your taste buds time to adjust accordingly.

You can make a list of the unhealthiest items in your regular diet and start replacing one each week with a healthier option. You can also choose to incorporate one healthy item into your diet each week, and the compound effort will show rewards very soon.

2. Go Green

You likely have no problem eating all your potatoes, but how about that broccoli or spinach? You don't have to kick potatoes to the curb (I know, I know -- you're welcome!), but you can focus on putting more greens on your plate. Aim to take a little less of the starchy stuff and more of the leafy green varieties.

For example, aim to fill 80% of your plate with leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables (and your occasional spud), and leave 20% of your plate for protein and fat.

3. Start Right

Now here’s where it really counts. In the morning, start with a green drink rather than that sugary donut. When you eat sugar in the morning, you send your blood sugar out of whack and set the tone for your day.

Avocado toast or a poached egg with avocado and tomato are heartier breakfast options while transitioning to your “salad in a glass” morning green drink. Or try chia seed pudding, you can trick yourself into eating something that tastes sweet without the sugar spike.

4. Plan

It can be challenging to stay on track when you're bored and hungry at work. A trip to the vending machine gives you something to do when you need a break from the computer, but you can also achieve this break with healthy foods you brought with you.

You can prevent these snacky cravings by keeping your energy high and blood sugar stabilized with small meals throughout the day. Bring one or two small, healthy snacks for mid-morning and mid-afternoon, so when you're feeling hungry, you have something nutritious at your fingertips. You don't even need to eat these if you aren't actually hungry but having them with you will be setting yourself up for success.

5. Choose Raw

Even just munching on crisp, raw veggies as a snack will help you get the nutrients, probiotics, and enzymes to help balance your gut. This simple trick helps your body adjust to healthier foods. Luckily, these foods are the easiest to prepare and package to take along with you as a snack option.

Include guacamole or hummus to go along with them, and you've got an easy, affordable, and healthy snack for when you feel you can't quite make it through the day until your next meal.

Mindfulness is something so many of us forget when eating. Take time to appreciate every bite and find love in every flavor you eat. Put down your device and fully be present with your meals. Engage in conversation. Slow down, chew your food well, and simply focus on being present and grateful during meals.

Practice these tips as you work in more healthy foods, and you’ll find your tastes for overly sweet and indulgent foods will start to fade away in favor of fresh and delicious!

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