Changing Tastes

knit-wedding-dress-yslThat sounds so sophisticated, doesn’t it? Until you consider that the man who said it also designed this cocoon wedding dress. Hmmm. Maybe he wasn’t quite the last word on style. Or maybe the dress was a joke. God, I hope that dress was a joke. Oy.

Anyway, you know what else fades? The smell of cigarettes and the taste of refined sugar.

As I’ve mentioned, I was a smoker for a long time and, even now, seven or eight years after my last cigarette, I still say that I’m a non-smoking smoker.  When I was a smoking smoker, I smoked up to two packs a day, I smelled like a giant ashtray and I had no clue, my sense of smell having gone into a self-induced coma in protest. Some time after I laid down the cancer sticks, my olfactory nerves reanimated. Seriously. They awoke and did a happy dance. (Do you have any idea how much that tickles?!)

I began to appreciate many of the smells around me again – coffee, freshly mown grass, flowers, rain. And I began to reject others – namely, the smell of smoke on other smokers. And, after a night out with friends, I’d have to wash my hair and even Q-tip out my ears to get rid of the smell before I could sleep. It was just an awful smell that I blithely lived with for about two decades. Incomprehensible now that my sense of smell has changed.

Similarly, my previous menu choices are largely incomprehensible to me now that my sense of taste has also changed.

Just as I was (and I guess continue to be) a nicotine addict, I am a sugar addict. I spent most of my life eating candy bars, hard candy, cakes, sweet rolls, packaged foods, etc. I drank diet sodas, but, big whoop. I was eating literally cups of refined sugar every week. And, as with anything, as my body reached a state of habituation with the sugar, I needed more of it to feel satisfied. It was an endless, automatic cycle. Until I chose to break it.

Breaking it was even more difficult than stopping smoking – I had the help of pneumonia for that. Less dramatic, but no less effective, were apples in breaking the sugar addiction cycle. I bought (and ate) apples by the bag, even though I didn’t particularly like them – they weren’t sweet enough. But after days, then weeks of eating fruit rather than refined sugar, my taste buds began to appreciate the natural sweetness. Eventually, I was able to step down from eating a bag of apples every day (a slight exaggeration – only slight) to just two pieces of fruit a day.  I no longer sweeten my hot tea. I don’t add sugar to my oatmeal with fruit. And, guess what! Things are sweet enough without the added sugar.

This same  change in sense of taste comes after a while of not eating fried or processed foods. After eating foods in more natural states for just a few weeks, try a Cheeto, a Pop Tart, or a Big Mac. I dare you. When I did it, I tasted oil, chemicals, salt, and sugar – not really the flavors I remembered.  My former favorites tasted like garbage which reminded me an episode of The Biggest Loser. Jillian ate some fast food that was a contestant’s favorite. The trainer actually began to gag when she put the food in her mouth and, at the time, I thought, “How ridiculous. Such an over-reaction.” I don’t think that way anymore. Now, I get it – even without the many years of eating as cleanly as she does.

Now, that’s not to say that a Twix isn’t a danger for me anymore. Not at all. If I eat one for whatever reason, I can feel that sugar addiction beast stirring. Processed foods are convenient and I am often tempted to overlook the bad flavor and go for the easy belly fill. I am tempted and I sometimes succumb; but, the enjoyment I once derived from those foods is gone and I want to keep it that way. My body feels good now. I like feeling healthier and more fit. I prefer the taste of health to the taste of a Snickers.

Truly, tastes do change.

While I cannot attest to its veracity, this infographic appeared in Forbes. It's interesting and provacative at the very least.
While I cannot attest to its veracity, this infographic appeared in Forbes. It’s interesting and provocative at the very least.

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