I want to be able to get you at a moment’s notice, take you anywhere, and go on long walks without you experiencing a meltdown.
Making the Switch
Just like teaching an old dog new tricks, you really can change your taste buds.
Today, I have snacked on a luscious, tangy pink grapefruit, sunflower seeds with pink Himalayan sea salt, crispy honey sesame sticks, and sweet chewy dates. Later, I plan on dipping slices of cool green apples into crunchy almond butter. Almost sounds appealing, huh?
If you told me a few years ago that I would be willingly eating this way, I would have probably snorted my Mountain Dew. I drank so much of the soda, my pee had the same florescent tint. If a dessert didn’t have chocolate as the main component, it didn’t count. I thought people were idiots who said I could satisfy my raging sweet tooth with a piece of fruit.
The fall into this new lifestyle was not graceful. I didn’t go quietly, but kicked and screamed (well, whined a lot) the whole way. I might not have been able to change if I didn’t discover that I was being affected by so many food allergies. In order to stop feeling so sick, I had to change the way I ate — completely.
After I gave up all processed and pre-packaged foods, since they all contained either soy or corn, I had no idea what to eat. I was very hungry and losing weight, but 15 years of chronic stomach ailments disappeared overnight and my skin started to have less breakouts and rashes.
Then I learned to cook. Really cook. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t eat, I started to identify foods that were tolerated and make new things with those ingredients. Each new safe ingredient opened a world of options for making new dishes. It became a challenge to make myself a version the same things I craved when I saw other people eating them, like hot wings, stromboli and ice cream.
Taste and Texture
This past year I have been tackling another element I found lacking in my safe meals — texture. Many of my homemade foods were delicious, but didn’t have the crispy or chewy qualities I longed for. I also wanted more portable snack options, so I could have something with me if I was away from my home.
The year I made ice cream every day turned into a love affair with nuts, which I was using as a topping. That led to the discovery of the amazing world of seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame. Now I am playing with combinations of sweet and salty, tart and nutty. I am enjoying the blasts of flavor so much in these simple foods that I have all but forgotten the appeal of potato chips and Oreos.
My mouth waters now thinking of grapefruit or a green apple. I say “ooh!” as I reach for a package of dates in the grocery store, thinking of how I can add chewy sweet texture to the salty seed sticks I am making.
If you want to make changes to your diet, rest assured it doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Your sense of taste will adapt and you will find the simple sweetness of a piece of fruit or the crunch of almonds to be satisfying. A lot is in the way you approach these foods. If you look at them as a poor substitute for your favorites, diet food, or — gasp — bird food, you won’t enjoy them. Try new things. Savor the taste on its own without distraction from other foods and beverages. Enjoy the feeling of fullness you get from eating whole food rather than junk. Here are a few of my new favorites to try: