WHEN IT COMES to healthy food, I’ve got it pretty easy. Not only do I actually enjoy the taste of many foods that others have to force themselves to eat but I can also give up anything at the drop of a hat.
So when I needed to stop drinking my beloved coffee, I just did, with about as much effort as getting a snack out of the fridge – I’m not totally insane by the way, the coffee had to go because it was messing with my yoga classes.
There’s another factor working in my favour when it comes to getting rid of stuff that’s not all that good for me, and that’s adaptation. Basically, when it comes to food and drink, you get used to what you eat. That can be bad if you’ve gotten quite comfortable with the taste of three heaped teaspoons in your thrice-daily cup of coffee. Nine teaspoons of coffee a day equals 180 or so every month – not good at all. It’s even worse if you’re into a couple of energy drinks a day or maybe a few cans of soft drink. When you try to cut out that sugar, your taste buds will protest like Greenpeace on an oilrig anchored in the Hauraki Gulf.
On the other hand, your tastebuds (and your body) have the remarkable ability to adapt in the other direction too, so as you get more used to the good stuff, you may well find the bad stuff less palatable.
I’ve seen this over and over – when I slowly went vegan in 2012, I noticed that the whey protein powder I’d been taking post-gym for years started tasting so unbearably creamy and rich that I literally started dreading having any, which in turn accelerated my vegan transformation.
Another example hit just this week. I had a few friends around for dinner, and because we all enjoy the sushi from a certain spot in Tauranga, we decided to just do sushi takeaways at home. I had my usual pile of veggie treats but at the end of the night, there were a few of the dreaded deep-fried types left over that my friends hadn’t finished.
They insisted that I hang onto them in case I was hungry later despite my mutterings that I’d eat banana skins before I scoffed a giant deep fried rice ball (I’m no saint but this really was a serious rice ball). The half spring roll on the other hand seemed semi-appetising. So into my fridge they went. When I got home after a yoga class last night, I was starving in the sense that even the aforementioned banana skins sounded good, so while my bachelor chow (risotto) cooked, I grabbed the spring roll and scoffed it down.
It was reasonably tasty and hit the spot but within a few minutes, I was feeling lousy to say the least. I felt like someone who’d ingested a litre of cod liver oil – blechh! The deep fried treat proved to be no treat at all, but there was nothing wrong with it. It’s just that between my huge intake of green smoothies, regular massive salad sandwiches and other healthy food, I seem to be unable to take deep-fried crap the way I used to.
Even my once a month bag of Burger Fuel chips left me feeling a little iffy the last time I had them, and that was a while back before I became even more smoothie crazy, so I don’t think I’ll be going back for that again. And a glass of Coke? Don’t get me started. I used to enjoy a Coke now and then but the last time I took a sip at a launch, I wondered why the barman had given me a glass of chemical cleaning compound – just awful!
Looks like I’m adapting in the right direction, with my body getting better and better at letting me know what I should and shouldn’t eat. I’m not the only one who’s noticed this phenomenon – about eight years ago, friends of mine transitioned from KFC and other dodgy fast food four times a week to raw vegan. The healthier they ate, the less able they were to eat the bad stuff. In fact, I remember one of them describing his last ever helping of KFC with something approaching horror – there was no doubt in his mind that he’d never go back there.
This all ties in quite nicely to Bruce Sherman’s recent article on vegan tourism – if you head in the direction of eating healthy food most of the time, and stick with it over the long-term, you’ll find that slowly but surely, you’ll lose the taste for the junk. Which will of course make it even easier to be healthy. ASHLEY KRAMER