Healthy Dining Finder - Take the 2-Week Challenge
 
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Take the 2-Week Challenge


Your taste buds learn to love the foods you eat on the regular basis. So how can your taste buds help you stay healthy? Incorporating minor modifications into your daily routine can provide a bigger bang for your buck than a drastic change that forces you to omit something that you enjoy.  Instead, we suggest making one (yes, just one!) small change to reduce your salt, sugar and/or fat intake every few weeks, and over time, you will train your taste buds to appreciate your new diet.
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We Invite Your Taste Buds to a 2-Week Challenge!

Experts say that two weeks is all your taste buds need to habituate to a new food or recipe. For example, transitioning from 2% milk to 1% milk, or cutting back (even forgoing) the salt shaker for at least 14 days will reacquaint your taste buds to the natural flavors of foods and may actually enable you to develop a dislike for the high-fat, -salt and -sugar tastes you once preferred.

Why? Author and founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., explains that our taste buds are extremely malleable: they become dulled with reoccurring intakes of high amounts salt and sugar and “perk up” when we return to the basics of simpler foods (such as a sweet strawberry or a flavorful vegetable salad that isn’t drowning in dressing).  In other words, your taste buds learn to love the foods you eat on the regular basis. 

So how can your taste buds help you stay healthy? Incorporating minor modifications into your daily routine can provide a bigger bang for your buck than a drastic change that forces you to omit something that you enjoy.  Instead, we suggest making one (yes, just one!) small change to reduce your salt, sugar and/or fat intake every few weeks, and over time, you will train your taste buds to appreciate your new diet.  And with less sugar and salt dulling your taste buds, you may sense an enhancement of all the natural flavors of other nutritious foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits.  

For example, I love my morning coffee. I’m not trying to give it up, but I did recently make the switch from sugary chai lattes to regular coffee with soy milk and no added sugar. After a few weeks of my new routine, I was surprised when I revisited my old favorite to find how incredibly sweet it now tasted and how much I had come to enjoy the taste of my new selection.

So whether you’re skipping that sugary beverage or choosing a lower fat and/or sodium version of one of your favorite snacks or meals, we invite you to join the Healthy Dining challenge by posting a message or photo followed by the hashtag #hdfchallenge. And be sure to let us know how you feel about your new change after sticking with it for at least 2 weeks!

If you’re not sure how to start, here are a few tips:

  • Slowly reduce the amount of salad dressing you use at home, and/or ask for it on the side when dining out.
  • Try switching from 2% milk to 1% milk, and then perhaps to skim (non-fat) milk.
  • Taste your meals first before reaching for the salt shaker.
  • If you’re a cheese lover like me, try cutting back to ¾ or ½ portion (which saves calories, sodium and saturated fat).
  • If you tend to grab-and-go in the morning, check out one of these dietitian-recommended breakfasts from HealthyDiningFinder.com:
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