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Dos and Don'ts When Eating Hot Sauce And Spicy Foods

The scorching heat may be temporary, but ending up in a crumpled, sweaty mess on the ground can get in the way of a nice meal. Hey, we’ve all been there! Some people could tolerate spiciness and others, not at all. To make sure you’d survive another spicy meal, here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind:


Smart Small

People who think they can take super-spicy food tend to overestimate their heat tolerance and end up biting off more than they can chew, literally. Never dive head first in any situation, no matter how well you think you know the game. If you’ve been warned that the food is extra spicy, eat with caution. Start with small portions to get the feel of the spiciness. If you can take the heat, then go for it, pile that ‘ish on! But if you’re just building your heat tolerance, better start with small portions. 

Chew Slowly

Don't eat too quickly, especially if you're still building your tolerance for spicy food. You don't want to end up with a scorched tongue or painful stomach cramps from the experience. It's worth remembering that the heat from capsaicin builds up each time you take a bite. What happens when you eat too quickly is that the heat escalates abruptly with less time for the senses to recover from the intense spiciness. And the spiciness does not go away quickly too.

It takes more than a few minutes for the heat to fade. So slow chewing and small portions are the best way to go if you’re new to eating spicy food. Take your time to get a feel of the spiciness, so you don’t end up overwhelming the tastebuds. 

Prep the Gut with Carbs

No matter how much you love super-hot dishes, never eat spicy anything on an empty stomach. The gut is pretty sensitive, and eating something spicy will lead to painful cramps if you didn’t prep your stomach first. Eaten, starchy food protects the stomach from the buildup of heat. Starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, grains, etc., also act as a barrier between the capsaicin and your mouth, so you don’t end up with a torched tongue each time you eat spicy food.

Add Hot Sauce Sparingly

It’s never a good idea to slather the hot sauce all over if you’re not used to the spiciness. Apart from burning your tongue, you won’t enjoy the food at all, and we hate to see good food go to waste! 

Whenever you feel like adding hot sauce to your food, never add the sauce all over. If you’re dining out, ask for the hot sauce to be served on the side. If you’re making the food yourself, adjust the heat to your comfort level or use a small saucer, so the hot sauce is served separately from the dish. This will give you more control over the amount of hot sauce that you put in your food. 


Force Yourself to Eat Super-Spicy Food

If you don't like spicy food or you can't take it because you're not used to the heat or your gut is very sensitive, never force yourself to eat super-spicy food. High tolerance for spiciness is not inherent to a chosen few; you have to build tolerance for it.

Gradually increasing the spiciness of the food is the way to build a tolerance for super-spicy dishes. And there is absolutely nothing wrong if you can't or won't take spicy food. If you don't like it, don't force it; otherwise, you might end up dealing with gastrointestinal problems. If you are prone to stomach cramps, acid reflux, gastritis, heartburn, etc., avoid super spicy dishes. 

Drink Water

One would think that a glass of water would douse the spiciness of capsaicin, but no. That’s like putting out a fire with gasoline! Water and capsaicin do not mix because capsaicin is a type of oil. And we all know that oil and water do not bind with each other. 

When you drink a glass of water to tame the heat, all this does is spread the spiciness all over your mouth because capsaicin molecules are repelling the water molecules. This will only worsen the burning sensation. Any type of water-based drinks should be avoided at all cost when soothing the tongue (and gut!) from eating spicy food.

Instead of drinking a glass of water to tame the heat, drink milk. The casein in milk is non-polar; it will bind with the capsaicin molecules. When casein binds with capsaicin, the spiciness won't affect the mouth's pain receptors as much. Any type of dairy product does the trick, so a cup of chilled yogurt makes a terrific alternative to a glass of milk. 

Why do we love spicy food? There is something so thrilling about capsaicin torching our pain receptors! To a certain degree, eating spicy food is about coping with the burning sensation. That’s why it’s crucial to educate yourself first before going head to head with spicy dishes. Build your tolerance for spiciness and check if your body could take the heat. Eating spicy food should be fun; it shouldn’t take you straight to the ER!

If you are a chili head like myself, you like to push the limits! However, we need to be smart about it and build up our tolerance over time. We can't all take bites out of Carolina Reapers like Ed Currie!

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