As someone who loves and craves foods that nurture my body, replenish my spirit, and make me feel powerful and strong, when I hear clients and the people I love turn away from a healthy plate and toward one full of processed foods—saying things like, “I don’t like the taste of this” or “I can’t handle the texture” or “I just don’t crave that food”—I can’t stop myself from raising an eyebrow.
I know that food and what we eat is a very personal topic and people tend to be sensitive when it comes to suggestions on how they can and should change their eating habits. I will honour your right to follow dietary guidelines that make sense to you and not go too hard on the tough love here.
But, really, isn’t refusing to make healthier choices because of taste or texture a bit of an excuse to continue eating unhealthy things? And one that can easily be challenged by making more of an effort to develop an acquired taste for the good stuff?
The benefits of expanding your palate and acquiring new tastes are many. Eating a variety of fresh, whole, plant-based foods on a daily basis is not only good for you, it opens you up to a world of new discovery and richness.
We’ve been trained our whole lives to believe that certain not-so-good-for-us foods are delicious. A lot of money goes into advertising things like milk and cheese and beef and chicken. But remember, fundamentally, humans are not carnivores—our 30-foot intestines and our genetics can attest to that fact. Instead, we are primates, and like our fellow primate kin, we thrive on fruits, nuts, and other plant-based items more so than any animal product.
I know what you’re thinking—and, yes, I agree that food should be pleasurable.
But food should also be our best medicine and the best fuel for our bodies. Eating well not only helps us feel better, it helps us look better and gives us the energy we need to chase our aspirations. Each of our cells accesses the foods we consume to regenerate; in turn, our cells support our bodies as they revive them from the inside out.
By acquiring new tastes, we boost the life-giving processes nascent in our bodies, and we learn to appreciate everything the earth has to offer. Over time, as is if through magic—but really, it’s through the earth’s many intended blessings—our energy will lighten, our anxieties will lessen, and our demeanors will be fueled by pure bliss. And through this cleansing of inflammation, excitotoxin addictions, negative emotions, and other debris, our palates also begin to open up…and our cravings change.
We’ll start to salivate over juicy peaches, leafy greens, comforting olives, creamy avocados, and tart berries. Those walnuts won’t seem bitter—they’ll be sweetly nourishing, embracing your body with gratitude. The umami softness of that miso paste will make your palate smile in delight and the subtle sweetness of those yams will more than satisfy your dessert cravings. (Note: If you’re curious to see what miso is all about, I’ve got a great miso soup recipe you can try.)
In other words, once you start eating healthier foods and getting into healthier habits, you’ll find that you start craving more of the nourishing things that support and protect your body. (Bonus: these things are also kinder to the planet you’re walking on.)
Ultimately, I’m asking us all to make a commitment to honour our bodies. What better reason could there be for going out and acquiring new tastes?
As hinted at above, your body craves what it’s used to. If you eat nothing but junk, that’s what your body will ask you for. If you eat plant-based whole foods on a daily basis, your body will start begging for more. If you teach yourself how to “love healthy”—if you get used to eating nourishing foods and see them as irresistibly delicious—you’ll find that you start looking better, feeling better, and seeing the world in so many more colours.
And here’s the thing (you know it’s true)—there are so many different ways to make different kinds of foods taste better to any palate. There are so many different ways to accommodate for texture. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little experimentation—and to dedicate yourself to consciously thinking about what you put in your mouth and why.
I know—it’s easy to argue that some foods taste weird or are inconvenient to prepare. After all, we tend to find things we’re not familiar with inconvenient.
But the more regularly you incorporate a variety of plant-based ingredients into your diet, the easier it will become to continue to do so. And, quite frankly, most convenience issues can also be solved by meal prepping on a regular basis (doing so will ensure you always have key ingredients on hand throughout your week).
Another excuse for bad eating that I hear regularly is that taking active steps toward healthier habits—like moving toward a more plant-based diet—restricts culinary creativity. I also hear that plant-based foods are all bland and boring. This couldn’t be less true! You just have some research to do.
I am always here to help you set yourself down a healthier, more vibrant eating path. But, in the meantime, here’s some advice for working toward a healthier food regimen—starting now.
More so than anything else, adjusting your habits requires intention. When I’m learning to love new foods, the first questions I ask myself are why and how: Why am I starting this new journey? How can my body utilize these new foods as medicine? How can these nutrients help me, supercharge me, nourish me?
Conversely, it’s important to think about how processed, sugary, addictive foods can work against your body and set you back in your mental, spiritual, and physical health journeys.
It’s also an excellent idea to bring a more conscious presence to the table every time you sit down to eat. Tell me—when was the last time you stopped to consider the flavours sitting on your tongue when you took a bite from your last meal? Have you ever really focused on the fresh-tasting zing of romaine lettuce or the delicate flavour profile of shiitake mushrooms?
Alternatively, have you taken a bite from a cheap, fast food hamburger and really “felt” how it sits on your tongue? How the grease tends to linger long after it’s welcome? How the saturated fattiness, the thickness, and the general “plastic” flavour of it all is only palatable because of all the salt and sugar thrown into the mix to convince your brain that what you’re eating is somehow delicious?
The powers-that-be in the corporate food world are very skilled at making you addicted to their products by adding sugar and sodium to everything.
Don’t you think it’s time to reclaim your palate from them?
Here’s a good starting place: Are you familiar with all the different flavour types out there? Most people tend to think of “sweet, salty, sour, and bitter” when asked about the different types of flavours. Scientists are now suggesting, however, that flavour profiles go so much further than that—there’s umami (savoury) flavours, spicy and cool flavours, “fatty” and metallic flavours.
By concentrating on finding these flavour types each time you put something in your mouth, you turn the process of eating into a game of discovery, and through doing so, you will likely find that certain flavour types more palatable to you than you once thought. Indeed, focusing on each bite forces you to really address what it is that you like and don’t like about different food stuffs—and this information is nothing short of empowering.
Does this process sound familiar? It’s a lot like the exercise most wine enthusiasts will go through when assessing what’s in their glass; they concentrate on the complexity, tannins, acidity, etc, of each wine they try. They fixate on the notes, the textures, the boldness, and by doing so, over time they expand their palates. (After all, drinking the same California cab day in and day out gets boring.)
Why limit this kind of exploration to the beverage aisle?
I know—the start of the journey toward acquiring new tastes can be rough. Especially since it’s not just your palate you’re trying to upgrade. Oftentimes, the body needs some work, too, and the cleansing process is no joke. After consuming your first kale smoothie, both body and mind may take a little adjusting—if your body has gotten used to consuming refined sugars its whole life, the natural sugar of dates may be something you find tough to swallow.
But with strong intention and a dedication to slowly removing harmful substances from each of your daily dishes, change becomes inevitable. You’ll find that you’re drawn to honouring your temple instead of careening toward self-sabotage.
And those Buddha bowls you thought you’d never crave will become something you actively, regularly seek out.
As spring settles in around us and we enter the seasons of reaping and sowing some of the earth’s greatest bounties, I challenge you to revisit some of the things you used to hate in childhood and try them out in new recipes. Or head to your grocery store and pick up a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tasted before and learn how to cook with it (you can find a treasure trove of tutorials on YouTube that’ll show you how to prepare foods you’re unfamiliar with).
For some extra inspiration, check out Solar Power Health’s upcoming events. Whether you’re looking to try out some new superfoods or are curious about how different herbs can take your plate’s life-affirming benefits to the next level, I’m bound to have something coming up that’s just perfect for you.
And, of course, if you find you’re still hitting some roadblocks, let me know. Creating beautiful dishes that are harmonious in flavour and feel—and that honour the world around us—is my life’s work and my greatest passion. Let me help you learn to love a plant-based plate as much as I do.