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Have Your Taste Buds Been Hijacked by the Standard American Diet?

The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) has hijacked our taste buds! Food manufacturers and fast food restaurants are creating products that mimic real food but are full of chemicals, sugar, fat and sodium. These food-like substances give the taste buds a burst of flavor and affect the body’s brain and hormones in such a way that you feel good and crave more. The problem is that our bodies were not created to process these “fake” foods. Our bodies are craving real nutrients and these foods are causing havoc on the health of our families, especially our children.

Cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are all related to poor diet. With skyrocketing rates of obesity and statistics like 1 in 4 kids being pre-diabetic or having Type 2 diabetes, this should scare you enough to make a change.

What are taste buds?                                              

taste buds hijacked by standard american diet

Tongue with taste buds

It’s important to understand a little about your taste in order to reverse this process and get back to eating real food.

We all have thousands of taste buds located in various areas of our tongues. Each of these taste buds has 50-100 taste receptors which process five different flavor types – sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. So when a food or beverage enters your mouth it spreads across the different taste receptors forming a flavor.  There are reasons that we have different ways to detect flavor. A sweet food tells us it has energy, salty designates sodium, bitter could warn us about harmful poison. Umami is a newer discovered taste and processes savory taste created or enhanced by things like soy sauce, aged beef, ripe or cooked tomatoes, and monosodium glutamate.

By the time we are 20 years old, we will have lost half of our taste receptors leaving us vulnerable to increase the use of things like sugar and salt to stimulate that flavor.  The food companies and fast food industry monopolize on this natural process by creating foods that make us taste buds come to life and crave more.

How can we get our taste buds back?


tastebuds hijacked by standard american diet

The good news is that we can get our taste buds back and train them to love healthy, real food.  By reducing salt, sugar, fat and chemicals in the diet and beginning to try new foods, over time your taste buds will begin to prefer the real food over the processed ones.

This is easier said then done for some of my clients.  Some people have been so programmed by continuously eating fast and processed foods that they convince themselves that everything else tastes horrible.  And truthfully, maybe it does for awhile but sometimes you just have to “fake it till you make it”.  For children, it becomes even more difficult because they can’t really grasp the consequences of their actions at such a young age. It will take some patience and commitment to get a food addicted child eating real food.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Slowly reduce sugar, sodium and chemicals. Especially with your kids, start by just reducing the amount you use in your cooking and in products you buy. Swap out fresh fruit for other sweet snacks, choose the lower sodium options, buy organic which can help avoid chemicals such as MSG and look for foods with fewer additives.

2. Get back in the kitchen. This is the hardest thing for people to grasp. Everyone feels stressed for time and can’t imagine having to get back to the basics of cooking. Plan some simple recipes in advance and make enough for 2-3 meals so you are not cooking everyday. I have all my clients prepare meals in one shot over the weekend so they can simply grab and go during the busy workweek.  Check out this article on Meal Planning and download their free book with lots of great ideas.

3. Try something new. Make a habit of forcing yourself to try new foods. Keep an open mind! Just because you didn’t like something as a kid doesn’t mean you won’t like it now. Remember those taste buds decreased in sensitivity as you got older so a bitter food might not taste so bitter.

4. Start early. Start teaching your kids how to eat right from birth. Don’t give bottles with sweet juice, nurse if possible, make your own or buy organic baby food, set an example by serving healthy meals and avoid having processed junk food in the house. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to help your children grow into healthy and normal weight adults.

When it comes to being healthy and maintaining an ideal body weight, there is just no substitute for eating real food.  Getting back in the kitchen doesn’t have to be that hard.  If you visit my website (, I offer you a variety of clean AND easy recipes so that your time in the kitchen is minimized while you learn how to maintain a healthy weight and stay well.  Check out my recipes under the Nutrition Tab.  If you still need help please contact me today for more information on my Lifestyle Diet Plans and Nutrition Coaching Programs.  I’d love to help you and your family get healthy eating real, delicious food.

Are you looking to transform your health? Mary works with clients all over the country developing personalized nutrition and exercise plans for weight loss and health. If you’re ready to get started on your journey to health and wellness contact her today!

Visit BodyDesigns Two Week Detox Plan or BodyDesignsbyMary for more information.

bodydesigns two week detox plan

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David Owen Beyond Taste Buds: The Science of Delicious National Geographic December 2015
Mark Hyman MD Why Cooking Can Save Your Life Awaken February 28, 2013

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