How many times have you had the following conversation? You’re trying to persuade someone to do something, and they say “No, I don’t like that”. You ask them how many times they have actually done that thing and they eventually admit they never have, but still maintain that they know they wouldn’t like it. That is the way that many of us behave when it comes to food, and especially healthy food.
The bare fact about eating healthily is that it involves expanding your range a little. Many of us will bellyache about trying a new food because we like what we are used to. The things that we have eaten for years were new to us once too, and the issue is one of being set in our ways. If you try something new every once in a while, you can become better acquainted with variety, and pick the new things that you really like.
There is no point in banging your head against a brick wall trying to develop a taste for something you know you do not like. However, you’ll never know if you like something until you actually try it. This is particularly true of international cuisine. It may look different, but millions of people eat it regularly, so it can hardly be poisonous. Taking a leap of faith and trying a different food is not going to be the death of you, so why not try something different once a week and surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it?
The old cliché that if something is delicious it must be fattening has a lot to answer for. Take any list of favorite foods, and there is little doubt that the majority will be things that are bad for us. We instinctively crave foods that, on balance, are not the best option for us – they are unhealthy, lack nutrition and often they don’t really fill our stomachs very well – but we keep going back, for whatever reason. Why DO we crave foods that are bad for us?
There is no doubt that there is a certain charm to food that is not particularly healthy. That charm is not always in the way the food tastes. Sometimes it is a convenience thing – if you’re at a football game the chances are that the options for a snack do not include a healthy casserole, but will include burgers, hot dogs and various other foods that won’t do your waistline a lot of good. Sometimes it can be something as simple as the way a food smells – find someone who doesn’t enjoy the smell of fried onions and you may just have found alien life.
As often as not, we just crave the unhealthy food because it is simple. We’re used to it, we don’t need to sit down to eat it or pair it with just the right side dish. It’s easy and it tastes good. What we need to do is to get to the point where we find a healthy option to be just as hassle-free. For many people, the best option in this case is a sandwich – just as long as there is not too much butter on it, anyway!
Part of eating a healthy diet is in looking at what you eat now and making the necessary changes to turn it into something healthy. Although this may initially seem like deprivation, it allows you to keep a similar eating pattern but improve what it gives you in terms of nutrition. It is as much about a shift in mindset as anything else.
For example, if you are used to having a burger for lunch, it may be a good idea to switch to a tuna or chicken sandwich on granary bread. The principle is the same – meat, bread, seasoning – and if it seems a little tasteless in comparison then there is a lot you can do with pepper, paprika or a range of other light spices.
For many people, the idea of replacing a chocolate bar with an apple or a packet of crisps with a handful of fruit and nuts is tantamount to replacing a swimming pool with a small puddle. However, if apples aren’t for you there is a wide range of fruit that is packed with taste and nutrients. And none of this means you can never eat chocolate again. In fact, an occasional bar may make it easier to stick to the diet long-term.
Also think about the part that soft drinks play in your diet. If you can replace a few soft drinks every week with a glass of water or fruit juice, then you will benefit from the change that this brings. It may seem boring, but there really is no better taste on a hot day than an ice-cold glass of water.