You might be able to distinguish Pepsi and Coke, but that doesn’t mean you are a world-class taster. In fact, if you regularly consume processed foods like sodas and frozen meals, you could be doing damage to your taste buds by overloading them with sugars and salts. These powerful tastes are everywhere in our modern diets, and they tend to overwhelm our tongues, impeding our ability to savor subtler and more exciting flavors.
There is more to life than sweet and salty. Instead of accepting an atrophied sense of taste, you can take the following steps to regrow your taste buds to make them powerful detectors of all of food’s delights.
Keep a Journal
Senses improve subtly, and without a record of your experiences, you might not even notice when your sense of taste has progressed. Every time you sit down to eat or drink, you should crack open a notebook and jot down any sensations you experience, including aromas, tastes, and textures of various elements of your meal. Keeping notes on your meals will make you more mindful of the various flavors you find in your food, and eventually, you will notice that your descriptions have become more elaborate as your sense of taste has fully developed.
Kick Taste-Killing Habits
There are a number of seemingly innocuous behaviors that absolutely decimate your ability to taste. To truly succeed in cultivating a sharp sense of taste, you might need to alter many of your daily habits.
The tobacco cigarette is inarguably the worst culprit of diminished taste, as they not only literally kill taste receptor cells but they also dry out the mouth, making it even harder to distinguish delicate flavors. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer withdrawals while you attempt to enhance your senses. By switching to a rechargeable e-cigarette, you can continue to hone your tasting skill on different varieties of e-juice. Though, while you transition to vaping, your taste buds might temporarily shut down; this is a normal experience that occurs while your tongue’s cells repair and grow stronger.
Other possible practices that might be impeding your sense of taste include:
- Your food choices. As mentioned before, processed foods laden with sugars, salts, and fats are unhealthy for body and taste buds.
- Your drink choices. If you are dehydrated ― perhaps because you opt for sodas or coffee instead of water ― you can’t taste as effectively.
- Your speed choices. Devouring your meals doesn’t give your sense of taste time to work.
- Your temperature choices. Eating foods that are too hot or cold causes harm to delicate mouth tissues, including taste buds.
- Your exercise choices. Getting fit has more benefits than just looking good; smell and taste are stronger after vigorous exercise.
Start With Smell
The truth is much of your ability to distinguish flavor comes from your nose, not your mouth, so it is just as important to cultivate a sense of smell as it is a sense of taste. If ever your nose is blocked by allergies, a cold, or your fingers, you will notice right away that you will be able to taste the basic five flavors ― sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami ― and nothing else. Thus, all sweet things will taste the same if you do not properly train your nose.
As you begin your journey toward an enhanced tasting skill, you should start by testing the capabilities of your smeller. Before sinking your teeth into any new food, you should close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose, analyzing the various odors. Then, as you chew, you should be able to differentiate between what you taste and what you smell, improving both senses at once.
Go Bland, Then Go Back
If you have been terrible to your taste buds in the past ― overloading them from processed foods or killing them with bad habits ― you probably need to reset your mouth before you can make any real progress with your sense of taste. For two weeks, you should avoid any foods and beverages that contain strong flavors, instead noshing on bland options like unseasoned vegetables, dairy products, and bread products.
After those two weeks, you should begin reintroducing flavor. In home cooked meals, you should experiment with flavor combinations, gradually increasing the complexity of the foods you eat. With every forkful, you should be scrutinizing your experience, discerning unique sensations and noting them in your journal. As long as you remain mindful, you will begin to notice a stronger sense of taste, providing you even more appreciation for the food and drink you consume.