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Improve your tastebud IQ

When I was 17 I loved indulging my taste for unique clothing. I loved wearing my long sweaters lined with dark purple faux fur and snakeskin pants (also fake) from the tiny clothing store I worked at at the time. Sometimes I’d sift through my mom’s closet to find some piece she had from the 70s and pair it with something in my own closet.

My taste for the unique is still with me today as I treasure my less duplicatable handmade jewelry from South America, a beautiful gold and citrine ring that was my great grandmother Laura Ruiz’s, and beautiful objects I’ve acquired during travel.

Taste shows up in all sorts of different ways.

You may be attracted to particular features or qualities in potential romantic partners.

You might find certain behavior in general tasteful or distasteful.

Your taste may in part be dictated by what culture finds attractive at any given time (i.e. trends)

(Bell bottom jeans? Skinny jeans?)

But typically when we have a taste for something we’ve refined the gross to something more subtle or particular.

When it comes to food, we have a “taste for” certain things as well.

I’ve read that the average person has up to 10,000 taste buds and they’re replaced every two weeks or so. There’s a lot of potential to pick up nuances in the food we eat.

One of the problems we can run into is mass produced, processed foods can tend to desensitize the taste buds, making it harder to actually taste and derive pleasure from, say, a handful of raw almonds.

Also, eating when in a stressed state also seems to desensitize tastebuds. (How often to you hear about someone stress eating apples? They usually go for the more intensely flavored or processed foods). I sometimes joke with clients that you’ll rarely hear reports of people lamenting about hard-boiled egg or baby carrot binges.

Have you developed a more refined taste in food?

You’ll know you’re on the right track if, for example, your tastebuds can tell the difference between a tomato shipped from several hundred miles away versus an heirloom grown within 20 miles of where you live. Have you had this experience?

When it comes to store-bought items, can you taste the difference between JIF peanut butter and one made from ground peanuts alone?

Or between Hershey’s dark chocolate and Dove dark chocolate and Endangered Species dark chocolate?

Less additives, sugar, processed oils, and flavors can taste bland (or simply different) at the start, depending on what you’re used to.

Very happy tastebuds enjoying round one of tapas at Temper Grill over a lively conversation about crop circles with Michael

Wake Up Your Buds

Upgrades to more simple, less processed foods also reflect a shift in consciousness. They require you to wake up from mass marketing attempts to hijack your tastebuds and pay attention to nuances and personal preferences. It’s still about pleasure – just more refined pleasure.

Here are two simple practices:

1.) Buy one of your favorite fruits from the grocery store and also from the farmers market and do a taste test. What do you notice?

2.) Take one item of food that you eat that errs on the side of being more processed and search around the grocery store for something with less flavoring, processing, etc…Peanut butter is a good one to try. Do it for a couple weeks and then go back to your original. See what you notice there, too.

There is Satisfaction (and beauty) in the Subtle

If you slow down enough, you’ll find it in nature, in the first bite of a fresh strawberry, and in the warm presence of a woman smiling to herself.

Not long ago I invited you to commit to becoming a better perceiver of physical beauty. Today, I invite you to do some field work with your tastebuds.

Like many things, this is a practical “assignment” with much deeper implications inviting you notice what arises when less altered or distracted by state-shifting foods.

With love,


If you liked this post, you may like: Eating for a Clear Mind

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