There’s a conception in some parts of the health world that nutritious food and tasty food are incompatible. Surely it’s the sugar and fat that the experts are always warning us about that provide all the flavor in our diet? Doesn’t committing to healthy eating mean sacrificing our favorite meals?
In a word, no. There is very little health benefit to be found in making yourself miserable. No one wants to be living on colorless, flavorless food, which means there’s very little motivation to pursue that kind of diet and you’re setting yourself up for failure. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying eating, which is, after all, something we can’t live without.
What you need to do is think about moderation, not deprivation. Too often, denying yourself a favorite snack for an extended period just leads to binging when the diet is over or the temptation grows too strong. Instead, keep your portions to a reasonable size and balance the chips, cake and candy with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Make “unhealthy” food a special treat to savor rather than banning it from your life.
Speaking of vegetables, too many people have bad memories of childhood school lunches where anything green was boiled to death, and that has convinced them they’re just not fans of veggies. Some experimentation with seasonings and cooking methods may help you realize that the combinations of possible flavors from even one humble vegetable can be pretty amazing.
Roasting instead of boiling is a good start if you want to maximize the taste. Why not chop vegetables up and add them to a stir fry, where you can also add garlic and ginger and all kinds of spices and seasonings to bring them to life? Look at different cuisines from around the world – Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Caribbean, Mediterranean – and see the different ways they add flavor to their cooking. Then you can mix and match the aspects that work best for you.
Nutrition is a very scientific term relating to the physical requirements of food and the human body, but eating is about much more than science. Necessity has to sit alongside all the quirks of human behavior, accounting for food as pleasure, celebration, artistry and social experience. Once you do that, eating can become enjoyable and healthy at the same time.