Feed Yourself Smarter | Falling in love with food that loves you back

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Falling in love with food that loves you back

21 Mar 2017, Posted by Angela in FYS News

I have just come back from a IFE an International Food trade show in London. Visiting the  “healthy & wellness” section highlighted one of my big complaint with parts of the health food market. Foods may be free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. But does it taste good? How do I feel when I eat it? A bit compromised? Am I really enjoying it?

A friend posted a picture of a green smoothie the other day, with the comment “day 3 of green smoothie and I still don’t like it”. We don’t have to drink something that tastes like pond water to be healthy. No pain no gain is not a principle that applies to a diet that suits your body! In fact studies have shown when we feel obligated into healthier choices we are more likely to rebel later with poorer choices or eating more, something I often hear from clients I work with.

I have a dream that all food starts with TASTING fabulous, and it has just what your body wants and needs in terms of nutrients. Not only will this make it much easier for everyone to eat food that makes them feel great, that increase in pleasure will change the thoughts about food and which it turns out, will also impact how is acts in your body. 

In a study at Yale University, two groups of people were given either a ‘healthy’ milkshake or an ‘indulgent’ milkshake and ghrelin which is a chemical our body releases in response to food that controls our hunger was measured. The group with the indulgent shake had a significant drop in ghrelin compared to those drinking the healthy shake – which is exactly what you would expect as a chemical response to a high fat and sugar drink. What is astonishing is that both milkshakes were exactly the same!

In other words, the chemical response of the body was influenced by the thoughts the person had to the food, rather than what was actually in the food.

The study was run by Dr Alia Crum her work shows that what we think about our food, whether we enjoy, take pleasure from it will impact the chemical reactions triggered by the food, as much as the actual content of the food.

I have a dream that all food starts with TASTING fabulous, and it has just what your body wants and needs in terms of nutrients. Not only will this make it much easier for everyone to eat food that makes them feel great, that increase in pleasure will change the thoughts about food and its biochemical impact.

If you are trying to be healthy and find yourself eating foods you think are good for you but you hate the taste of, STOP now

The foundation diet I advocate is based on bringing out the intrinsic flavour and taste of real food. It is full of vegetables, good fats, lean proteins, whole grains and fruits. If you have been used to food that is a bit more processed then your taste buds may need a bit of adaptation to this. Processed food is by definition higher in sugar and salt.

Step 1 is to re-set your taste buds.

Our taste buds respond to what we feed them. Did you enjoy the taste of coffee or red wine when you first tried them? Chances are no, but you educated your taste buds to enjoy their bitter and complex taste profiles. Sugar has a higher taste threshold than salty, bitter or sour, that means we need more sugar to notice sweetness than we need salt to notice saltiness. But we can educate our taste buds.

If you add salt to food normally then start to reduce the amount day by day. If you do it gradually enough it is easier on your taste buds and the other tastes from the food will start to come through.

With sugar, it can take a bit longer and there can be other factors involved in a sweet craving (gut bacteria for example). But follow these steps.

  • If you add sugar or honey to drinks, start to reduce it gradually by ½ a teaspoon each drink, each week. (Honey still contains sugar albeit less than in regular sugar).
  • If you are not used to the flavour of vegetables, then start by introducing the sweeter vegetables such as carrots and beetroot. Then introduce the more bitter, greener vegetables like courgette, fennel, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  • Roast vegetables in olive oil or coconut oil, this will bring out the sweeter tastes.
  • If you currently eat 2 vegetable portions a day, increasing to 3 is a 50% improvement. The following week, increase to 4 a day and you have a 100% improvement. Continue until you are on 8 to 10 portions a day.


Step 2. What is you flavour profile and preferred ‘mouth feel’?

The flavour of food is a combination of the taste, the smell and the mouth feel of the food. Do you like food that feels creamy in the mouth or food that has more crunch? If you like crunch then make salads with cucumber, radish, baby carrots, chopped apple and walnuts. If you love creamier food then make use of avocados and guacamole as a topping to dishes.

Step 3. Get your flavour kicks elsewhere.

In the foundation plan oils and fats come from dressings and sauces (about 1 tablespoon) and these can also carry wonderful tastes and aromas by adding spices and herbs. The beauty is these also give a huge phyto pimp as most of the spices and herbs contain phytonutrients that stimulate antioxidants and anti-inflammation systems. I’m a big fan of fermented relishes such as kimchi and raw slaws.

These are two of my favourite dressings: Pomegranate seeds, garlic, a pinch of salt and olive oil. Or try blending olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, turmeric and black pepper.

The bottom line is that healthy food can and should taste delicious. You are in control of refining your taste buds to love those new flavours. Stay curious and you will find the way to eat foods you love that love you back, that is the key to finding your perfect diet.

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