Does your food taste like something it isn’t? Are you a neophobe or addicted to certain foods? Would you like to understand and change your food-related behaviors? Good news, you can make healthy changes. Even better, they are not too painful. Let me be clear, this will require change and work. Over the past fifty years we’ve made great strides in technology and convenience while ultimately derailing our relationship with food.
Food is fuel. Food is feelings, and has emotional and physical ties. Food, real food that is, takes some effort. First, there needs to be a shift in mindset. A willingness to do what it takes to gain control over your most valuable resource, your health. When the decision has been made that you have one body, one life and the power every day to improve both, then you are ready. Your body needs fuel to run, to repair, to ward off attack, and to improve. That fuel is provided in the form of food; food-like substances do not count.
Your body is a miracle machine with some incredible performance systems. It can tell you what you need in the way of vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. However, your lines of communication may be jammed due to fake flavor overload. If your body needs the nutrients found in strawberries and you feed it strawberry flavored yogurt (which contains no real strawberry, only strawberry flavor), what is the result? Flavor with no benefits.
Today we have choices from thousands of processed foods with millions of flavor combinations. Frito-Lay has thirty brands; the Lay’s classic line alone comes in fifteen flavors with layers of flavor not related to the actual plant from which it is derived. Thus, these flavors are tricking your nose, mouth, senses and body. Keep in mind also that when a package says ‘natural flavorings’ that refers to the process not the end result.
We’ve become addicted and increased the opportunity to feed these addictions at the demise of our food relationships. In addition, real food has become more bland and less healthy as efforts to increase yield, reduce disease, and decrease insect activity while improving the ability to transport food has become the focus. In response, there is an entire industry based on flavor. This has allowed for the adding of flavor to anything to make it more palatable and to increase the desire to eat. A pile of corn can taste like a Mexican dish, a BBQ sandwich, or a pickle. We have powerful cravings for food that makes us feel stuffed, slow, sleepy, foggy, and sick.
Nutrition can drive behavior and nutritional wisdom can be learned. We are programmed to eat for energy. In the real food flavor arena, the more flavor means the more dense plant food chemicals that are present. Meaning the vitamins, minerals and plant goodness are elevated. Flavors are information, they contain chemical markers that assist our bodies. By abusing the flavor senses, we’ve confused our bodies and we continue to eat what our body thinks it wants when in reality we can never get it from that source.
Here’s a solution. A step toward feeling better and moving away from one of the leading causes of death, obesity. Eat real food. Eat plants. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. If you eat meats, know what your meat ate (grass-fed, pasture raised, free range). By using herbs and spices to season your food you’ll gain another layer of plant benefits. Take it slow and try something new each trip to the store. Try the same food prepared several different ways, paired with different seasoning and sides. You’ll most likely discover that your portion sizes will decrease, your tastes will change, and you’ll have more energy, clarity and an overall feeling of better health. You can find many ways to be more productive in food preparation and add a convenience level to healthy food options. Go You!