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Struggle With Spice? Here’s How To Learn To Handle Spicy Foods

red and orange soup in a bowl on the wooden table top

Spices have been around for thousands of years. It’s second nature for many people to add a pinch of pepper to their meals or sip on ginger tea. Besides, some recipes rely on spicy peppers and spices for their unique flavor. Do you struggle with spice? Here’s how to learn to handle spicy foods.

1. Gradually build your tolerance level

If it’s your first time trying spicy foods, avoid foods that contain ghost peppers. A good rule of thumb is to start small with mildly spicy foods. Consider sprinkling red pepper flakes into your pasta or jerk chicken to experience a quick dash of heat.

Mildly spicy foods allow your tongue to get used to the burning sensation. If you go shopping for hot sauces, watch out for labels with “mild” or 450 SHU boldly printed on them. As you know, SHU or Scoville Unit is the unit of measurement for spice.

Eating spicy foods more often makes it easier to adapt. With that in mind, consider incorporating spicy foods into your weekly meal plan. If you’re consistent, you can graduate from mildly spicy foods to moderately spicy foods in no time. Don’t worry though – there are supplements out there like turmeric supplements that make it easier to enjoy the benefits of spice without the taste.

2. Keep a glass of milk or acidic drink close

Many people make the mistake of drinking water to douse the effect of the spice in a food. A regular glass of water does very little in taming the heat. In fact, it could make the burning sensation feel worse and unbearable for you. 

Water tends to spread the capsaicin – the active component in spices that produces the burning sensation – around in the mouth. One way to handle spicy foods is to keep a glass of milk or acidic drink within arm’s reach. Milk contains fat and protein that are proven to neutralize the sensation in spicy foods. 

If you can’t handle the heat when eating spicy foods, consider helping yourself with a tall glass of milk. preferably almond or cashew. Try to take a sip after every few bites to reduce the degree of heat sensation you experience. Alternatively, acidic drinks like grape, lemonade, or orange juice can help cool your tongue. 

3. Learn to eat more slowly

Try as much as you can not to rush spicy foods. Slowing down lets you enjoy the heat without overwhelming your taste buds. More so, your taste buds adapt more each time you chew on food that contains spicy ingredients like hot peppers or chili.

Essentially, eating slowly builds up your tolerance level to spices. In contrast, eating fat means taking more capsaicin into your mouth than you can process at a go. This ultimately results in increased heat sensation.

Learn to breathe through your mouth in between each bite. This practice tends to cool your mouth. Also, consume starchy carbohydrates like potatoes and bread to prevent the capsaicin from entering your taste buds. The key takeaway here is that you should slow down to enjoy the flavors of spicy foods.

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