March is National Nutrition month, and this year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is launching a theme titled “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” This is a big deal because, sadly, so many people still hold the view that eating junk food tastes better than eating healthier options. And believe me, you’ll never hear me argue that ice cream isn’t tasty…but I think it’s irresponsible to our health and our families to carry the preconceived idea that healthy food isn’t as enjoyable as junk food. When we think that way, we’re quite literally planning to fail to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It’s not true that we’ll be hungrier and less satisfied by choosing to eat healthier (though there might be a bit of that in the beginning, as our bodies actually become addicted to sugar, salt and fat), and it’s not true that the food won’t be as flavorful (again, once your body acclimates to the downregulation of excessive amounts of sugar, salt and fat). By trying new recipes and sticking to the natural flavors of whole foods, you can learn to enjoy how food should really taste, and will start to look forward to eating every single meal.
This month, I’m encouraging all of my clients, family and friends to adopt one healthy swap in their diets, and learn to love the way whole foods taste, and the way they make us feel. Try a smoothie in the morning instead of that stale bagel (that will surely make you feel hungry again in 2 hours), or try a salad topped with fruit, nuts, seeds…you name it…for lunch. Pick up one new fruit and vegetable to try each week, and learn which spices can flavor your foods, so that you don’t ever need to cook with added salt and fat. Treat yourself to a new recipe book that concentrates on whole, natural foods…seeing how beautiful some of those meals can look makes all the difference! Try one swap per week, and you’ll start to enjoy eating at home, incorporating more whole foods, and using less of the bad stuff in every meal.
Eating right is 80% of the battle people fight in losing and maintaining a healthy weight, but it doesn’t have to be nearly as hard as we make it. Start to experiment with the taste of healthy foods, and by the time National Nutrition month rolls around again, you won’t believe you ate any other way!