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Put Your Taste Buds Through Training Camp

Put Your Taste Buds Through Training Camp

Use this foolproof strategy to change the way you think about healthy foods so you can start eating better today.

Summer camp in the National Football League, summer league in the National Basketball Association and, of course, spring training in Major League Baseball: They’re all dedicated to getting players ready before the season officially starts. And it works, bringing out the best in athletes—newbies and veterans—so they can perform at their optimal level.

It works that way with your perception of flavors, too, whether you’re a rookie kid or retired senior. You can train your sensory systems for taste and smell to respond more positively to the flavors and aromas of oh-so-healthy, yet bitter tasting, foods. This way, when it comes to deciding where healthy vegetables like broccoli or kale will play on your plate, you’ll give ‘em a starting position.

Exposure therapy for your taste buds
University at Buffalo researchers have found that you can change the way the 1,000 or so flavor-controlling salivary proteins in your mouth respond to foods, and make bitter flavors become milder and more acceptable. All it takes is repeated exposure (we think your smell system works the same way).

So, if you’re kids are veggie-shy or you’re not getting your seven servings of produce daily, try not to stress. Instead, encourage repeat tastings: Have them try just one bite at this meal, two at the next. Do that by making tough-to-eat veggies—baby carrots, individual asparagus spears, broccoli sprigs—into finger foods. Combine them with favorite flavors like hummus or peanut butter, or add spices with aromas you enjoy—mint, basil, thyme or rosemary. Create a taste and smell training camp for the whole family and become major league foodies.

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