The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Day Seventy Nine – A Matter Of Taste 30 April 2008

I was thinking this morning as I made my shake how much my tastes have changed during this diet.  Obviously we have quite a limited range of foods, but I’ve found that over time I’ve reacted differently to them.  When I first started I adored the Thai chilli soup, as it was spicy and tasty and felt like real food, but by about the third week I couldn’t even open the pack without thinking I was going to throw up.  So since then I’ve been on a combination of mushroom, chicken and vegetable soups, albeit all of them mixed with a healthy dose of tabasco and black pepper (our only permitted foodstuffs) to mask the slightly chalky aftertaste.  The vegetable and mushroom are fine, but my enjoyment of the chicken one comes and goes in waves.  Why?  How?

When it comes to the sweet stuff, it’s been even more peculiar.  I tried a handful of them in the beginning, found out that I loathed the chocolate one (imagine expecting a hot chocolate and getting a dusty, unsatisfying and unsweetened substitute) but found I loved the caramel, vanilla and banana.  Now all of these are teeth-curlingly sweet, and it’s that really sacchariney, fake sweetness … like eating a spoonful of Canderel.  I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but these are delicious, as is the equally overpoweringly sweet raspberry & cranberry bar.  There’s no way I would ever have eaten anything like this at all before I started the diet … in fact, they would’ve made me feel ill.  More surprisingly, the fairly innocuous peanut bar, which I thought would be failsafe, took me about a week to get used to as all I could taste was salt.  Now I don’t even notice that.

Recently my penchant for sweetness has increased.  I no longer like the caramel shake, because it’s not sweet enough, and am back on the chocolate ones but only if mixed with a spoonful of one of the water flavours (fruits of the forest or orange).  To give you an idea of how sweet that is, it’s normally quite palatable if you dissolve one spoonful in a litre of water.  I now like it when there’s a spoonful in one shake, which is about two thirds of a pint.  I even enjoyed a strawberry shake last week on a whim, and for my entire life I’ve actively loathed the taste of strawberry.  Why do I like it now?  How?  What’s happening to my tongue?

The upside of this is that it’s forcing me to seek out more variety in my diet, which goes some of the way to alleviating the monotony of having the same food week in, week out.  The downside is that I’m now a bit nervous about what I’ll want to eat when I’m back in the world of normal food.  Will I have gone from being a savoury girl to the kind of maniac who sees a tub of cookie dough ice cream and rushes for a spoon?  Will all of the foods that I previously loved (and can cook with aplomb) now taste revolting?  And, horror of horrors, will I find that mixing sweet and savoury in food (like dried fruit in a salad, or apples with cheese, or raisins in couscous) is delightful rather than absolutely repulsive?  It’s a scary prospect, I can tell you.

I guess I need to embrace my new journey of food discovery, and be prepared not to take anything for granted.  That’s very strange, because by my grand old age you tend to be reasonably secure about what you know, what you think and what you do.  It’s quite revolutionary to think that I may have changed as much on the inside as on the outside … OK, I know that’s probably not bleedin’ rocket science but it’s slightly daunting nonetheless.

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