Early last year I was sitting in my office and, just as I had many times before, took a bite of a protein bar. It tasted ghastly.
Don’t ask me why but I had another bite to make sure.
Within minutes the room was spinning, I quickly developed a raised red rash all over my body and my lips began to swell.
I was having an anaphalactic reaction.
Looking back I realize that the incredible human body has a built in defense mechanism. Within seconds it had sent me a warning signal that I was ingesting something that was going to do me harm.
The taste test.
Let me use another example, one that I’m confident you will relate to. Do you remember trying your first cup of coffee?
I do. I was about 16, it was instant and included three sugars to try and cover the bitterness. My Mother laughed and said that I would acquire the taste.
I did. Before long I ditched the sugar. More than thirty years later I’m rather partial to triple shots. I’ve certainly acquired the taste.
Do you love coffee?
Did you have to acquire the taste?
About eighteen months ago I did a Daniel Fast which included avoiding all caffeine for three weeks.It was challenging for about three days. After that I had the most amazing focus. When the fast ended I made a special trip to a cafe for my first coffee. I thought they had made my latte ridiculously strong. It tasted awful. I sent it back and they brought another. It was the same.
It wasn’t the coffee, it was me. I had lost my acquired taste for coffee.
It didn’t take long to come back.
But this story isn’t about anaphylaxis, or coffee.
It’s about wine. That wonderful beverage that comes forth from the fruit of the vine. The one that helps you switch off, loosen up, fit in.
I remember my first taste. I was about nine. We would visit my grandfather weekly for a Sunday roast. He would pour a half-full sherry glass for us.
The amount would barely have filled a thimble.
And it tasted awful.
Never mind, said Grandad, you will acquire the taste.
Forty years later, and wine is, or was, taking up a disproportionate slice of my life. I was using it as stress relief and to help me relax. It was doing neither.
Instead it was robbing me of my time, my sleep and my clarity of thought.
Until eight weeks ago, that is when I read This Naked Mind and stopped drinking. Just like that.
Until Friday that is, when I decided we deserved a wine. My husband didn’t argue, he chilled a bottle of our favorite sparking (we still have a large stash) and opened it when I got home from the office.
It tasted awful.
Last night we tried again with a nice organic Sauvignon Blanc. Not much better.
I found myself saying, I’ll acquire the taste.
I was shocked. Effectively I was saying, if I persevere, I will become dependent again, and my body will convince me, once again, that I love the taste of wine.
When I actually don’t.
What are our bodies telling us?
Why is it that things that are not so good for us, take time to learn to enjoy? Like most, I found smoking my first cigarette was disgusting. I’m grateful I didn’t take it up.
However I persevered with coffee and wine, and ended up pretty dependent on both.
It’s physical addiction, to caffeine and alcohol, that has fooled me into believing I like the taste.
Saying goodbye to wine.
When I read This Naked Mind, my plan was to end the habit of splitting a bottle nightly with my husband. I wanted to limit my drinking to weekends and social occasions only.
The truth is, realizing that wine had me hoodwinked and that I honestly don’t like the taste has come as a shock, and a bit of a disappointment. I had never contemplated leaving it behind forever.
But why would I take it up again, if I don’t actually enjoy it?
The answer is, I won’t.
Just don’t ask me the same question about coffee.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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