When it comes to spicy foods, it seems as though some people can't get enough, while others run away at the mere hint of a little heat in their food. Picture: Pexels (Lovefood Art)
When it comes to spicy foods, it seems as though some people can't get enough, while others run away at the mere hint of a little heat in their food. Picture: Pexels (Lovefood Art)

5 tips on how to actually enjoy the burning pleasure of spicy food

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Apr 9, 2021

Share this article:

Spicy foods are a staple of the cuisine in many parts of the world, so you may feel left out if your taste buds are accustomed to blander fare, or even worse, you get burned out if you pop a pepper without knowing what you’re getting yourself into.

When it comes to spicy foods, it seems as though some people can't get enough, while others run away at the mere hint of a little heat in their food.

Between the painful capsaicinoids which is an active component of chilli peppers, the bloating from drinking too much water, and the inevitable sweating, spicy food can be uncomfortable for some to eat.

If you want to eat and enjoy spicy food, it is best to understand how to handle, eat it, and how to soothe the burn afterwards.

Here are a few ways you can build your spicy food tolerance, according to experts at Marigold Maison Restaurant.

Start small and build your tolerance

You can’t just jump into ordering the spiciest food on the menu at your favourite restaurant. You need to work up to it! That’s not just an old wives’ tale! It’s a fact.

As you eat more foods that contain capsaicin, which is the compound responsible for the sensations of heat in our mouths, you’ll develop a resistance to some of its effects.

Capsaicin works on a chemical level, by exposing certain taste receptors in the tongue and mouth to sodium and calcium ions – which cause them to transmit a “hot” signal to the brain. This is where the sensation of heat comes from in our mouths. It’s due to a chemical reaction.

But when you repeatedly expose your tongue and mouth to capsaicin, these calcium ions begin to “close” the receptor door behind them, stopping pain signals from being transmitted.

Eat more slowly during spicy meals

This can be difficult if you tend to eat your meals quickly. But one of the best tips that you can follow to enjoy the heat of a spicy meal without overwhelming your mouth and taste buds is to slow down.

Every time you take another bite of a food that contains capsaicin-rich ingredients like hot peppers, the receptors in your mouth will react accordingly – and the “burning” effect of the spice will be renewed, and enhanced. Essentially, you’re building up to a higher and higher heat level as you continue to eat.

You’re constantly adding more capsaicin to your mouth. The faster you do this, the less time the effects will have to wear off.

You’re eating more capsaicin than you can process at once – and this results in a sensation of more heat and “burning.”

Consider eating hot foods more slowly, and even taking bites of other foods while you wait for your mouth to cool down a bit.

Ask for spice on the side

This isn’t possible at every restaurant. However, many restaurants will be able to leave out the spicy pepper and seasonings that are added to build up the heat level in a dish – and put them on the side for you to add to your food as you prefer.

This is a good way to learn more about your own personal spice tolerance. You can add the spicy sauce or ingredients to your food slowly until you’ve found a balance that works for you.

Then, you can use this information to make a better decision about what spice levels you should ask for in your next meal.

Have coolant on-hand (no, not water)

Capsaicin, which is the spicy compound in peppers, is not soluble in water. What that means is that when you reach for that icy glass of water after you’ve set your mouth on fire with a spicy curry and you want to wash away the spicy compounds – nothing will happen.

Sure, the cold water will feel nice while it’s in your mouth, but once you swallow, the capsaicin won’t bond with the water or get washed away or neutralized. Think about how oil and water interact – it’s a similar idea.

So, what are you supposed to do when the heat gets to be a bit too much, and you need relief? Dairy is the answer! Well, dairy and alcohol.

Don’t force it

If you really feel like you can’t increase your spice tolerance anymore, don’t force it. Some people are more inclined to like spicy foods, and have higher pain tolerance, and can handle the “burning” effects of capsaicin more effectively.

Despite what anyone may want to have you believe, there’s nothing wrong with not liking excessively spicy foods – if it’s not for you, it’s not for you, and that’s perfectly okay.

The spiciness is just like any other flavour.

Share this article:

Related Articles