Eating For Pleasure
By: Dr. Rachelle Viinberg, ND
What is healthy eating? Is it consuming low fat dairy, watching saturated fats, avoiding all refined flour, and consuming salads with oil and vinegar daily? These have traditionally been health-conscious staples. It’s fair to say “healthy” food didn’t always make us salivate, and can frankly be quite bland. So often people will track their “macronutrients” on apps to reach a specific caloric goal, and lose the ability to listen to their body’s actual needs. This often leads to restriction, followed by “cheat” meals, guilt and body shaming. The next day the cycle continues with a “restart” and more tracking.
Currently, there is a perception that healthy eating requires flavour sacrifice. But what if we change the perception of what healthy eating actually is? Note that the obesity epidemic exploded in North America in the 1980s when high fat was villainized, and processed convenience foods were encouraged. People stopped making home-cooked meals for their families and replaced many of the foods with low fat/high sugar alternatives.
A good example of eating for pleasure is in the French culture - a nation with one of the lowest obesity rates in the first world. Labelling “good” food and “bad” food is unheard of. Meals are meant to be enjoyed, a time to socialize, and to be encompassed with the richness of flavours. They enjoy the buttery vegetables paired with a pan-seared lamb chop drizzled with cognac dijon cream sauce (for example), without any guilt or stress. The idea of eating for enjoyment is a critical piece of a healthy relationship with food.
Consider this mind-blowing concept: You can eat for pleasure and eat healthily at the same time. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you’ll probably end up maintaining a healthier diet in the long run when you eat foods that make you happy. Evidence that supports people being more inclined to make healthy choices when they think that choice will taste good.
People become less obsessed when they are not restricting, and are actually enjoying food. As a general rule, try to sit, slow down, chew, and fully experience flavour, aroma and texture. Incidentally, you may find that McDonald’s meal you thought you were craving is actually quite…well….gross. And if you still enjoy it - that’s okay too!
So cook with cream, garlic, and butter if you so choose. Find some quick, easy meals that taste good, and enjoy them. Have pancakes with your family on a Sunday. And most importantly, slow down and relish. Chances are you will feel more satiated, less obsessed, and happier - if not healthier overall.
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