How to Adapt to Spicy Food

Spicy food is enjoyed the world over. In some countries, spicy foods are even fed to the very young to help acclimate their taste buds to the delicious heat. Eating spicy foods will open up a whole new world of culinary delights to those who dare to venture, but for those who haven’t eaten many spicy foods, work is required to handle the hotter stuff. Follow a few simple guidelines to acclimate to the spicier food of the world.


1. Start Small


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Begin by dousing your mac and cheese with extra black pepper or sprinkling crushed red pepper flakes into your soup. Seema Vora, an Integrative Health Practitioner in NYC, recommends a spicy diet to her clients due to a variety of health reasons (stimulating metabolic rate, lowering blood pressure, etc), and recommends starting out by using ketchup spiked with a couple drops of Tabasco.


2. Savor the Flavor


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“The number one mistake most people make when spicing their food is using too much of a spice. Fresh spices, used sparingly, add great flavor,” she says. Also, add one spice at a time to figure out if you enjoy its flavors before muddling a dish with several types of spices and flavors.


3. Increase the Spice… Slowly


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When your taste buds get accustomed to these small measures of spice, bring it up a notch. Try adding seeded, chopped chiles to your meals. Start with milder ones like poblanos and cubanelles before moving onto jalapenos and serranos. A friend of mine who worked up his spicy tolerance advised this: “It needs to be somewhat gradual, but don’t be afraid to go a little too spicy sometimes. You don’t have to douse every meal with hot sauce, but if you want to stretch your tolerance, then you need to have an occasional meal that leaves you with a burning mouth. It’s like exercising a muscle—no pain, no gain.”


4. Have Coolants on Hand


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Have a little milk to go with your meal or mix a spoonful of sour cream into the salsa. Dairy products go a long way in taming any spicy pain. “A great tip is to have spicy food with something that is a natural coolant for the body.


5. Don’t Force It

Not everyone’s stomach can handle spicy foods. If you repeatedly experience pain after incorporating spiciness into your diet, then stop. It’s not for you.

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