Taste buds rule our lives and nobody seems to notice. The consequences are: We're fat, we have diseases like diabetes, we feel bad about ourselves, we are unhealthy and out of shape. Maybe not you. Maybe you're still young and it hasn't caught up with you yet. Maybe your cells and pancreas haven't become fatigued and your cells aren't insensitive to insulin yet. Or maybe you have disciplined your eating to some degree already. But one thing is sure: If you only ate what your taste buds desired, it would eventually spoil a great deal of your quality of life. For most people, their eating habits will be the core cause of what eventually kills them.
You've probably been fighting it. If you're reading this, chances are good you are the kind of person who takes your health into your own hands. Good for you.
But this insight will raise you above the fight. It will put taste buds in their proper place: Voteless. Without a voice. No more important than your cheek or a pinky toe.
This is a consumer society and the most prominent feature is literally consuming. Food is a major entertainment industry and frighteningly delicious food is being pushed on you from every angle. Food is a major activity of almost everyone. It takes up time and attention. Think of all the money and effort going to please those little buds on our tongues — at the expense of worthy causes, at the expense of our own health, at the expense of the planet as rainforests are being plowed under and oceans are being stripped clean to please our tongues.
Take this vow with me. Give up eating for pleasure. Like a holy vow. Similar to a vow of chastity or a vow of poverty, and basically for the same reason. Eat only what you need to nourish your body. It will be fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, and good sources of protein.
You need only to consider one question when you wonder if this food is what is best for you: "Would I eat this if I couldn't taste it?" That question is more ingenious than it might seem at first.
What about when you are at someone's birthday party and everyone gets a piece of cake? Would you eat that cake even if you couldn't taste it? Yes, you probably would because you wouldn't want your hostess to feel bad, you wouldn't want the other people at the party to feel awkward by your abstinence, and you want to be part of the ceremony.
Ask yourself the question. It will steer you right every time.
Your taste buds want to eat sugar, fat, salt, and goodies. But they are like little kids jumping up and down pleading for a cookie. You need to be the dedicated parent who kindly but firmly says "no." The cookies aren't good for you. They won't help you grow strong and tall and smart.
Another good analogy is fidelity. When you get married, you choose to be faithful. You know you'll meet others who will be attractive to you. But you know it will spoil intimacy and trust, so you choose to forgo those goodies for a higher good.
It is not really a sacrifice. You give up a superficial temptation for a sacred reason. Your life is better because of it. You are a higher being when you stay true to your vow. You are happier. The people in your world are happier. It is good. The same is true for the vow to forgo the pleasures of the tongue. Not that you'll try to find foods that taste bad. Taste will become irrelevant. It is not one of the considerations you will use to decide whether to eat something or not.
Luckily, most of what you eat will still taste pretty good.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.