If you’re weak for sweet, or can’t say no when presented with salty snacks, than you may blame your insatiable taste buds for your weight gain. But not so fast, friends – your heightened tastes may not be the culprit after all. In fact, you may be able to use your powerful palette to help you lose weight instead, if you just learn some scientifically-proven tasty techniques, listed below.
According to the Director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Dr. Alan Hirsch, people who have a less acute sense of taste are, in fact, more likely to put on weight. The truth is that if your taste buds are working effectively, they should pick up subtle flavors, making you less likely to add sugar, salt and oil – the flavors that promote over-eating and weight gain – to your foods. If your taste buds are working like they should, then you shouldn’t require these extra additions to appreciate the flavor of your food. Properly functioning taste buds also play a role in how you experience a sense of fullness, helping you to stop eating even before your stomach sends a satiety signal to your brain.
Alas, with processed foods playing a leading role in our society, our taste buds have become pretty scrambled. They’re left to sort through confusing, overlapping layers of processed, artificially ramped up flavors, ranging from sinfully sweet to unnaturally salty. This overwhelming abundance of intense flavor signals causes your taste buds to overwork, to shut down, and to ultimately lose their sensitivity, requiring much higher intensities of flavor in order to register flavors again. As a result, people don’t receive a satiety signal as quickly, and they end up consuming larger quantities – leading to weight gain – to get their flavor fixes. This is why children’s cereals have become boxes of animated colored sugar, and why many people are no longer able to enjoy a meal without a shaker of salt obsessively placed by their side.
But not to fret. Your taste buds can be “revived” and effectively trained to help you in your pursuit to lose weight. Simply by cutting down on processed foods and switching over to wholesome, natural foods, you should already start to experience satisfaction and fullness more quickly when you eat, leading you to eat less fat, sugar and salt, and to thereby lose weight.
What other options do you have to help you avoid foods that make you gain weight? According to Dr. Hirsch, you can lose weight by simply flavoring your food with herbs and seasonings, which contain no calories, and that make you feel satiated more quickly and decrease the amount of food you chow down on.
Dr. Hirsch studied substances that stimulate the sense of taste, appropriately called “tastants.” In a research study, over 2400 overweight and obese individuals were asked to replace their traditional salty foods with foods seasoned with salt-free, savory flavors like cheddar cheese, taco, parmesan, ranch dressing or horseradish. Subjects were also instructed to sprinkle sugar-free crystals in flavors such as strawberry, malt, cocoa, banana, raspberry and spearmint on their sweet and neutral foods. Amazingly, 6 months into the study, the subjects lost an average of 30.5 pounds and their BMI took a steep dive by an average of 5. They lost nearly 15 percent of their body weight.
According to Dr. Hirsch, the tastants may have made the group feel satiated more quickly, leaving them less likely to overeat. Alternatively, the seasonings and crystals may have actually improved the taste of healthy yet relatively bland foods, like vegetables, leading subjects to make healthier eating habits and to crave less unhealthy foods.
1. Smell your food before you eat it.
2. Spend more time tasting and chewing your food.
3. Choose low-calorie wholesome foods and add flavor with herbs and seasonings rather than sugar and salt.
4. Try incorporating spicy, heat-producing seasonings (like cayenne pepper, chili pepper, paprika, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, etc.) into your foods, which are very flavorful, promote a feeling of satiety faster and can boost your metabolism.
5. In order to allow your taste buds to produce a sense of satisfaction and fullness, limit the number of flavor themes and combinations in one meal; otherwise, competing strong flavors in the same meal wind up constantly re-stimulating your appetite again. For example, combining very salty foods with very sweet foods is a formula for keeping your appetite awake and active, as the extreme flavors keep “re-awakening” your desire to eat. Think about how easy it is to polish off an entire jumbo bag of salty popcorn with a massive cup of sweet soda, or how, no matter how full you felt after your meal, there is always room for a sweet dessert. Choose one flavor theme in a meal, and if you are going to indulge in a dessert, than wait about one hour after your meal to enjoy it.
If you want to lose weight and avoid foods that make you gain weight, send your taste buds to boot camp, and cut down on processed foods. This way, you’ll ultimately enjoy wholesome foods more as your taste buds redevelop their sensitivity, and the pounds will melt off without a feeling of depravity or flavor boredom.