Your Fickle Palate


Just in case my February 12, 2015 post didn’t sink in deep enough (the “Mills Brothers” post!), here’s another try at it, in different words.  It’s way too important to your health to skip this review of the fickle palate..

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “but I could never give up …” – followed by one of the following:  cheese, fish, chocolate, Thai curry, or whatever!

If only people knew how fickle their palates were!  This is the sadly kept secret that gives diets a dead-end outcome.  Diets are always seen as a temporary boot-camp regimen for shedding unwanted weight, after which the patient can return to eating those things that “I could never give up” – only at a reduced level in order to not regain those hard-fought lost pounds.

I guess that’s why we speak of dieting instead of nutritional improvement.  That’s why we speak of “going on a diet” rather than changing what we regularly eat.  If you’ve never really weaned yourself from high-fat, low-nutrient eating, then you cannot contemplate a time when you would have little if any craving for fat.

We crave what we are used to.  If hamburgers and bacon and cheese and cream sauces are what we regularly consume, then they will be what we chronically crave. If legumes and vegetables and fruit are what we regularly consume, then they will be what we chronically crave.  We crave what our palate is used to.  Don’t fight this statement.

It is true.  We crave what our palate is used to.  Make what your palate is used to healthy.  Then you will crave what is healthy — even more than you’ve been craving what is not good for you.  And let’s be clear, the SAD (Standard American Diet) is not good for you!  Get accustomed to something else!

“I’d rather have a paper doll to call my own, than have a fickle-minded real live girl.”


OK – this sentiment from the Mills Brothers’ classic may be a bit dated.  We don’t really know for sure who is more coquettish and fickle – men or women.  But when it comes to being downright unrepentantly fickle, there is nothing to match your palate – that taste craving that hooks you on what you are accustomed to eating.  The sad thing is that most people never learn this, and therefore never change.

I was born in rural Ohio and consumed most of my calories in animal fat and animal protein growing up.  We had three sources of seasoning for the food we ate – salt, fat, and sugar.  I remember seasoning my sunny-side-up eggs by dripping bacon grease on top of the yokes – exquisite seasoning!  And adding teaspoons of sugar to bananas!  And to oranges!  And to peaches!  And to already-sugar-laden breakfast cereal!

And I craved that fat and sugar and salt – with a passion!

Since I left Ohio over 40 years ago I’ve had to transition from one diet to another, and then from another to another, and then to another, etc.  Each time I became accustomed to a different cuisine, my palate would start craving that cuisine.  I began to realize just how fickle my palate is – it is really fickle!  Now I crave food that I would have vomited at the thought of when I was a rural Ohioan.

But there is another notable change, as I moved from one cuisine to others.  The more healthy my cuisine, the stronger were my cravings.  And the more I looked forward to eating.  As unappealing as a low-fat, high-starch diet once looked to me, I crave that cuisine today so much more than I’ve ever craved food before.  I look forward to dinner with an eager anticipation that I never enjoyed when I lived on hamburgers and French fries and sugar-fortified fruit.

So the good news is, once you become accustomed to a new, healthier diet, you will crave that diet.  The even better news is that you will crave it and enjoy it even more than those that preceded it.  Yes you will!  Really! Try it.