Can Pizza Help Retrain Your Palate?
Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
I was talking to a friend the other day and we got into a discussion about how as adults we are so careful about what we serve our children (and pets for that matter) to eat. We make sure they try foods like oatmeal and go to great lengths to ensure they eat fruits and vegetables. If we do take them to Chik-fil-A they have to eat the apples and drink milk while we swallow whole those delicious waffle fries and discretely sip soda. We encourage kids to eat breakfast while we run out the door without eating or if we are lucky pick up a muffin while we stand in line for our 300 calorie Starbucks drink.
Time and logistics play a major role in what we eat but truth be known I think Marcia Levin Pelchat, PhD, at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia hits it on the head by acknowledging in Today’s Dietitian article that scientifically speaking, “people tend to eat what they like.”
Verily, a nugget of common sense. Of course we reach for what we think tastes yummy. My first pleasure food evokes memories of pizza day in elementary school. I LOVED hearing the lunch bell and marching in line to go savor pizza. The smell of the sauce and the tiny flecks of sausage (whose origin I now wonder about) was one of my favorite food moments.
There is to this day something comforting about the smell of pizza sauce combined with melted cheese that makes my mouth water. A Pavlovian response had been created for me and a palate preference shaped. The question is can one retrain their palate and start to also crave healthier options like salad rather than only pizza or whatever your favorite food may be? How do we balance our palate and in some cases just completely retrain it?
Relinquishing the “feast or famine” mentality can go a long way. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. These small steps can eventually lead towards big results.
3 Great Techniques to Retrain the Palate:
1. Availability – have wholesome foods fruits, vegetables and dark green leafy options in your house or at work
2. Persevere – Be persistent with yourself (not just your kids) by repeatedly offering yourself a healthy choice such as salad each day – small portions work just fine
3. Flavor – Pair a salad with one of your favorite foods whose flavor you do truly enjoy so lunch is satisfying
ADA’s spokesperson Dawn J. Blatner, RD shares that when you eat something more often you tend to want it more often (healthy or unhealthy). I love Dawn’s passion about staying flexible while eating healthy and tasty foods. Check out her book Flexitarian Diet which is a winning combo of flexibility and mostly vegetarian options.
Who knows you may just start to crave healthier versions of your comfort food. I now love thin whole wheat crust pizza with less cheese and lots a veggies. I have come a long way since elementary school.