When we think about diet, nutrition, and healthy eating habits most of us know that we should eat more natural foods, and less fried sugary types of foods. That is really basic knowledge that most of us know is factual. We're taught that from a young age. Then why is it that it seems so hard to put into place?
I do think part of this is due to misconception of what the diet industry has taught us about low fat, and fat free foods. I think people have been generally mislead to believe that unhealthy foods are healthy. I also think that we become accustomed to eating certain foods, and our bodies, and minds crave these foods.
I think the other major part is food availability. Being able to access quality produce that one can afford is also a major concern. When I see big name TV shows, and celebs give meal advice it may as well be in another language. I know for a fact that my family cannot afford to eat the way they are suggesting. It feels impossible to me even hearing it. It seems that no one ever considers that maybe not all of us can afford to buy that much produce, and other pricey items. It can be off putting for people living in poverty that need to eat better for their health.
I have heard from numerous sources that our bodies get accustomed to certain foods. Eating a lot of processed foods will dull our taste buds to anything that is not packed with preservatives, and sodium. Anything that has less salt than a Dorito chip may render not as tasty to our tongue as a result of eating too many similar items. This leads to most of us craving foods that we know aren't very healthy, because the rest taste so bland. It feels like a chore to choke down fruits, and vegetables.That is why many, many diets fail. The dieter feels like they're being punished by having to live in a world of bland food, and they decide that being overweight really isn't that bad compared to eating like that every day forever.
The good news is that you can reprogram your brain somewhat.
From what I have heard it takes 2 weeks of eating non-processed foods to begin to get some of your natural food cravings going. Basically, the more whole foods you eat the more you'll like them. It's hard to avoid eating out, chips, crackers, cookies, ect... for more than a few days. Your taste buds will eventually readjust, and natural foods will once again start tasting good.
What do I mean about natural foods?
This one can be a tricky one. I even cheat here more than I ought to, but I try to stick with foods that have are in their natural state. Things without commercials, or added flavors, and usually were grown, and not made in a plant.
How I explain it to my kids is that we have categories of food.
All the time foods are foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and beans. Eat these however often you wish.
Use with caution foods: Meat (fresh, not processed), bread, and hard cheeses. You can eat these daily, but not every meal.
Sometimes foods are things like sweetened drinks, candy, sweetened cereal, granola bars (yes, this includes things like Nutrigrain bars) yogurt (besides plain), prepackaged meals (Hamburger Helper, mac and cheese, soups) chips, crackers made with white flour, bread products made with white flour, and basically anything that has ingredients added to it as a stabilizer, or that makes it unnatural. Things that contain corn syrup are always sometimes foods. Even most bread products anymore contain corn syrup, but that is one thing that is very hard to avoid. If there was one thing I would tell you to watch for it is not the sodium, the fat, or the anything else, but the corn syrup. If you could cut your consumption of products down that contain corn syrup your diet would improve ten fold. Sometimes foods are meant to be eaten here, and there. Not daily, but possibly more than once a week if eaten in small amounts.
Every once in awhile foods are foods like McDonald's, carnival type vendors, and other foods that are deep fried, and usually sold as fast food. Foods that are labeled as low fat, and fat free should be avoided as much as possible. Next time you are shopping flip over the bottles of Italian salad dressing. Grab one regular bottle, and one labeled low fat. You will see one has corn syrup in it, and the other doesn't. The corn syrup replaced the "fat". This is in no way healthier, and will not help you lose weight, or be any healthier long term.
There are very, very few things that I list on the never list. Diet pops, and the like are not allowed to be consumed in my household. It's one of the few food restrictions I ever stick to. The only other one is no energy drinks. They are banned, even if my kids use their own money to buy them. No energy drinks are allowed.
I quit drinking any pop (soda) and eating near as many items with corn syrup, and I can tell you firsthand it does change the way your tongue registers taste. I can't even handle drinking any pop, or Gatorade anymore. It tastes sickly sweet, and just gross. Even many wines, and sweetened alcoholic drinks are too much. I instantly break out into a sweat when I drink them from the sugar. It wasn't like this before I stopped drinking them on a regular basis. Now I drink lots of seltzer water. It tastes really good to me. I know a lot of people probably feel that I am trying to avoid sugar, so I abstain from drinking stuff that has any flavor. It's really the opposite.
I have stopped buying (or buying only small quantities of) sometimes foods, and my family has come around to being a little more tolerant of foods they used to not even touch. We still have sweets like brownies, cakes, and cookies. I make them myself, though. By doing that I am able to use (some) whole wheat flour, and white sugar instead of corn syrup. When I make treats they are not full of preservatives. There was a lot of complaining at first when there was no quick grab, and go snacks. I really had to ease, and switch things around a lot, but even with all of them having some serious sensory issues with food I have been able to desensitize them to so much junk, and coerce healthier choices.
Try it, and let me know how it turns out for you!