Enjoyment of Eating – Enjoyment of Health

Enjoyment of food is just as important as eating healthy food. That may surprise you, coming from a nutritionist who preaches prevention. I try to convince everyone who will listen, that a healthy diet is necessary for a good quality of life because good health is important for a good quality of life.
But the enjoyment of food is also a necessary ingredient of a good life. Although it is true that a healthy diet improves your life by improving your health, if you hate what you are eating, your quality of life will suffer. You probably won’t stick with it anyway. What determines what we love to eat or hate to eat? We experience life through our senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Three of these connections with our world impact our experience of food.
We taste sweet, sour, bitter and tart. Some tastes give us pleasure while others are repulsive to us. The desire for good tasting food entices us to eat and thereby, nourish our bodies. When elderly people lose their sense of taste they begin to eat less and their weight begins to drop, sometimes to a point that is life-threatening.
Our sense of smell is an equally important way we experience food. There are hundreds of odors that we experience every day. They can stimulate feelings and memories that we may not even be aware of. Have you ever noticed a smell and gave you a feeling that you couldn’t quite put your finger on?
The smell of food can have a powerful impact on what we find pleasurable or distasteful. This reaction to smells is deep-rooted in our childhood. It can sometimes have more to do with memories and emotions than it does with the quality of the food. The smell of my grandmother’s rolls cooking in the oven brought up feelings that couldn’t be explained simply by how good they tasted.
Smells have a lot to do with what we think of as comfort food. This visceral reaction to smell is one of the reasons that it is so hard to change the way we eat.
The texture of food, which we experience through our sense of touch, is also an important part of our culinary experience. Crunchy or smooth, chewy or tough, the feel of food is also associated with pleasure or repulsion. Some of us enjoy smooth while others need crunchy or chewy to feel there is substance to their food. A good example of personal preference for texture is peanut butter. Everyone seems to have a definite preference for either crunchy or smooth.
The problem with enjoyment of food in affluent societies.
The problem with enjoyment of food is that those of us, who live in affluent societies, where there are a myriad of choices, can become so obsessed with enjoyment that we forget that food is also for nourishment.
Our natural attraction to food should ensure that we eat enough to keep us well nourished. But is our food nourishing? Are we getting enough of the things our bodies really needs? Nature has provided everything we need for good health, but our food suppliers have tampered with nature. By processing and refining, and the natural balance has been lost. Our pleasure-seeking has become dominant and our bodies suffer the consequences.
Some food cravings are like addictions. Sugar, salt and fat added to foods in excess can impel us to eat more than we need. We can get control of our addictions to them by gradually reducing the amounts we eat. We can’t eliminate them, as with drug, alcohol or smoking addictions, because they are an essential part of our food supply. But we can cut back substantially.
Choosing whole, unprocessed foods and moderate amounts of healthy fats are great ways to cut the excess sugar and fat in our diet. Using herbs and spices to season food in creative ways can improve the quality of our food while reducing the amount of salt and sugar we use. Use olive oil or other healthy oils instead of butter.
Enjoyment and nourishment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A fresh fillet of grilled grouper is just as delicious as a grilled steak, and roasted vegetables can be tastier than French fries. When we use really fresh foods, we don’t need salt and sugar. Their natural taste is delicious. This is especially true for locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables picked before they are ripe and transported over long distances, aren’t nearly as tasty. You can have the best of both worlds. You can have great taste and great nutrition at the same time. And having both is essential for a truly great quality of life. Bon Appetite!

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