Changing Habits Changes You
I was listening to a podcast about healthy eating and the person being interviewed said people crave salty, sugary, and fatty foods. The more we eat of them, he went on, the less we taste them—and then we eat more and more of them until we feel satisfied.
I’ve experienced this phenomenon in the opposite direction.
When I was a child, my mom transitioned me and my siblings from whole milk to skim milk. At first we literally spit out the skim milk, it tasted so sour. So, my mom brought home 2% milk, which we drank for a while. Then 1%. And finally skim milk, known nowadays as non-fat milk.
I remember the first time I drank whole milk after that. It was so rich, it almost tasted like a milk shake to me. My point: When I drank whole milk every day, I no longer tasted its richness; I didn’t notice I was drinking all that fat and could drink lots of it.
I’ve written here about my experiences eating dark chocolate. Like many people, I was happy to read about studies showing the benefits of eating dark chocolate. The consensus in the articles I read was to eat dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao or cocoa. (These are not the same thing, but depending on the product, they seem to use the terms interchangeably.)
I tried a bunch of different 70-or-more-percent dark chocolates and my favorite (for taste and price) was a 72% variety I enjoyed from Trader Joe’s.
Then, about two years ago, a nutritionist advised my wife, who then shared the advice with me, to minimize eating foods with added sugar. Inspired by that, I began trying dark chocolates with 85% cocoa. The one I switched to was Lindt. The Lindt 85% cocoa has half the sugar of the 72% Trader Joe’s bar: 5g vs. 10g per 40g serving.
Again, back to the original point about the way we become accustomed to tastes and the way it impacts what and how we eat…
I recently had some Trader Joe’s 72% chocolate. It tasted incredibly sweet to me. Way sweeter than I recalled from when I used to eat it regularly. My tastes had changed because I had gotten used to the 85% variety.
Similarly, the rare times I eat fried foods (almost never), I find I have almost completely lost my taste for them.
Changing eating habits, like changing habits of any kind, is not easy, unless you take it slowly. Break down your goals into small pieces and focus on one at a time for the 21 days it takes to create a habit that sticks.
In many cases, after a while, going back to the old habits will no longer be appealing.
What habits have you changed? Have you noticed a change in your tastes and other reactions to the old habits? Please join the conversation with your comments…