How to Curb Your Sweet Tooth, Painlessly

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Taste What You're Missing, Barb Stuckey, artificial sweeteners, sweet toothThis food swap for artificial sweeteners can alter your dessert cravings. By trading a super-sweet taste for honey’s aroma and “Brix solids”—the texture of sugar sweetness—you’ll create an equally satisfying experience, says professional food developer Barb Stuckey in Taste What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good.

I believe that you can teach yourself to like things less sweet. Once your palate has become used to a norm, you have to slowly reset it. For example, I drink a cup of hot tea every morning when I wake up. I used to sweeten it with two packets of high-intensity sweetener. Then one day while doing research for this book, I realized that I was drinking the sweetness equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar each morning and decided to cut back. When I first tried to go lighter on sweetness, I felt I was missing something. Each morning I dreaded making my one-packet tea, which no longer gave me the same sensory stimulation I was used to. So I decided to try a different tack. I switched from sweetener to honey, which adds not just the sweet taste, but also a lovely floral aroma. I was tricking myself by replacing some of the sweet taste with another sense: smell. Honey also boosts the mouthfeel of tea by adding more Brix solids than I was getting from my sweetener. By doing this, I replaced a bit more of the sweet taste with another sense: touch. Today I’m drinking a much different cup of tea: less sweet but equally satisfying.

Retraining your palate to like things less sweet is one of the secrets to eating a more healthful diet. It will be startling at first, but once you figure out how to swap one type of sensory stimulation (the sweet taste) for another (smell and texture) and appreciate it for its own sensation, you won’t miss anything at all.

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Sam Harris is the author of the bestselling books The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, and Lying. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing has been published in over fifteen languages. Dr. Harris is cofounder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. He received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. Please visit his website at


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Kim Stolz is a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, MTV news anchor, restaurateur, and current Vice President of Equity Derivatives at Citigroup. She is a graduate of The Brearley School and Wesleyan University. In 2012 she was named one of the 100 Most Compelling People of the Year by Out magazine. She lives in New York City.

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