Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Changing Tastes

I've learned that are bodies are amazing in so many ways. One of those amazing things about our bodies is our taste buds. Our tastes naturally adapt to the foods we are used to eating. When we change our diet to try to eat healthier, it can be really hard at first. Sometimes healthy food might actually taste "healthy" for a while. But it's amazing how quickly our bodies can adapt. Our tastes can change and before too long healthy food tastes delicious and we lose some of that desire for unhealthy food. Our body starts to crave food that is good for it instead of the alternative.

In the last 18 months or so our family has really been trying to eat healthy food. We haven't cut out all of the unhealthy, but we have cooked more meals from scratch using whole, unprocessed foods. We used to crave "junk" food a lot more often than we do now. And as a results, we used to eat out a lot more than we do now. Here's a previous post where I gave some tips for eating out less. It's wonderful to see our family's tastes changing. We've noticed that when we start to slip back into unhealthy habits (like during busy times or on vacation), our bodies crave our natural healthier diet.

I've really noticed some big changes in our four-year-old son lately relating to his diet. He's been a picky eater, like a lot of children his age. He's pretty good with most vegetables, but he's always had trouble enjoying lettuce or spinach or other greens. Just in the last few weeks since our garden has been producing spinach, he's been eating a big plate full of salad (including spinach). He eats it just plain (he doesn't like dressing) and he loves it. We've been working with him to get him to try all of the food at our meals and it's really helped develop his taste buds to like different kinds of food.

Another point I want to make is that you can make healthy food taste good. And it's better to spend the time to make it taste good than to not eat it. A few spices, a little sweetener, some dressing or an interesting topping can go a long way to make healthy food more enjoyable. It's good for food to be enjoyable. Most of the recipes I've tried to include on this blog are healthy and enjoyable at the same time. It's okay to eat some uninteresting food once in a while if it's healthy, but it's sure a lot easier if it's healthy and tastes good too!

Here are a few tips if you're trying to help your family develop healthier eating habits:
  • Try variety of different recipes! Your family will tell you which are their favorites. Make their favorites again, but always include new ones so that they will get used to trying new things.
  • Sneak nutrition - this concept works well for children and adults alike. Add nutritious food to recipes that your family already likes. For instance, add some pureed vegetables to spaghetti sauce, substitute whole grain flour for white flour, or for more ideas see this previous post and this one.
  • Encourage your family to try everything during the meal. This can be hard I know, but it will really help their taste buds to try a variety of different foods.
  • Sit your family down together at the dinner table for meals, turn off distractions (like TVs, etc.) and encourage pleasant conversation. I've read about a lot of studies done that show this is important and really it's just common sense!
Do you have any more? I'm interested in your comments!

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