Adolescence is stealing my sweet tooth

April 24, 2017 — by Adina Bidel

A vanilla frosting-covered birthday cake stares at me. “Happy 15th birthday, Adina!” it says. With a lick of my lips, I grab my fork and dig in, eager to gorge myself on the trophy that represents my survival of another year.

Oh, wow, that’s sweet. Really sugary. My chewing slows —  the taste lingers in my mouth for too long now, intense and unappealing. Do I really want this?

It has been a month since my 16th birthday, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t eat a birthday cake.

As a kid, my profound appreciation for sweet foods was a huge part of my identity — it was one of the things my friends knew me by.

Any time my mom allowed me to, I would order the biggest, sweetest thing on the menu at whichever restaurant we went to. “Can you really eat that?” she would ask in disbelief, and I would always reply an excited “Yes!”

For my 14th birthday, I went to SnoCrave and ordered two giant honey toasts, which are box-shaped stacks of bread covered in various toppings such as ice cream, macarons and chocolate. For my 16th birthday this year, however, having become somewhat less fond of sugar, I shared a palm-sized glass of creme brulee with five friends.

I can feel age slowing down my sweet tooth. I still order cakes and pies from the school cafeteria, but they always end up half-finished, leftovers given to a friend. Sweets are becoming better in theory than in practice.

As people age, their taste buds stop regenerating, and the sense of smell dulls. Maybe that’s why there’s a common trend of growing to like bitter food and drink as one gets older. Children, in comparison, start out with much stronger taste buds that are sensitive to bitterness, which is nature’s sign of “toxins — do not eat.”

My cognition of sugar has changed, and the saccharine sucrose that I used to love now overwhelms me. Losing my love for sweets feels like losing an inner child; am I going to start enjoying the bitterness of coffee and dark chocolate, like the mature adults that surround me? As my endurance for sugar fades, I am reminded of my growth and changed self from a kid who constantly craved sugar to a bitter teenager.

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