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Why have one piece of chocolate, when I can have the whole bar? Why drink one glass of wine, when I can have 3? I’m kind of full right now, but there’s just a little left, so might as well finish it, even though food is backing up to my throat.

One skill that many of us struggle with when it comes to food is moderation. More important than ridding my life, or my daughter’s life, of sugar, I want to live and teach the skill of moderation when it comes to unhealthy foods. I want to be able to enjoy delicious tasting foods that may not be super healthy, with the knowledge that they are a treat, not the norm.

Unhealthy food tastes so much better when you don’t eat it all the time. But eat fast food 5 days in a row, and the food just becomes boring and unexciting. Food should be something to look forward to, like a little “vacation of the taste buds”, if you will.

The deal with the taste bud vacation, however, is that you can’t take it at every meal, day after day, and get the same effect. It needs to be a special, once-in-a-while event. When preparing for a taste bud vacation, you need to build it up in your mind beforehand, really look forward to it. Imagine what the special unhealthy food is going to smell like, look like, feel like and taste like.

Additionally, the taste bud vacation needs to be of moderate size. Ever notice how the most flavorful bites are always the first few bites? Those are the worthy bites, excess on a taste bud vacation leads to taste bud overload and shutdown. Then when it finally comes time to eat that food you’ve been looking forward to…you take small bites of it, let it melt on your tongue, let the flavor penetrate the totality of your mouth so that every part of your tongue gets to appreciate its full essence.

And later when you’ve finished the small portion of unhealthy food…you train yourself to be satiated, and come back home from your taste bud vacation. You’re greedy brain will likely protest, “It was so good, I neeeed more!” But the logical part of your brain responds, “Why? It’s never going to taste as good as that portion did. The vacation was nice, but I’d never want to live there because the food will turn blah.” You can take your loving memories of your taste bud vacation and look back on them fondly. Best of all, on a taste bud vacation, there’s no need for guilt b/c you only ate a small portion.

Moderation with food (among other things) allows for balance in life. To be able to eat and appreciate unhealthy food, we need to eat healthy food. In fact, have you ever truly taken the time to try to detail out the descriptions of what any food (healthy or unhealthy) tastes like? Maybe that’s the key to it all. Next time you eat a piece of food, eat it slowly. Focus on its true flavors, and what makes you like it or not. Maybe something as simple as an orange or carrot can turn into a taste bud vacation, too!

(Bonus: A real vacation can cost you thousands of dollars, but a taste bud vacation can cost under $5.)

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