Friday, July 22, 2016

Why don't we eat our vegetables?

Mostly because of our taste palates and differing sensitivities to sweetness and bitterness.

We all have different tastebud patterns and sensitivities on our tongues just as our fingerprints differ.

Sweet wins over bitter every time. The choice is clear.

We are hard wired for sweetness for survival because sugar provides the quickest energy particularly for our primal fight or flight reactions. When our diet is high in sugar as in our American often from packaged foods with added sugars, taste buds dull and can't detect the lower levels of sweetness in vegetables which require more taste sensitivity.

Foods that are a little bitter to one can be very bitter to another. Bitterness in nature is a signal of what not to eat too much of so it stops us by tasting badly. However, the bitterness balances the sweetness when consumed in healthful proportions in whole foods. The bitter compounds inhibit the overgrowth of certain cells which is why some bitter foods are desirable to ward off cancer cells.

The fibrous texture of many vegetables is not very appealing compared to other foods that are easier to chew and are smooth textured. Yet, fiber is what is lacking in many of our diets as we alter the palatability of whole foods. Whether prepared in home, a restaurant or purchased in a grocery in a package altering a whole food to increase its appeal is altering the healthfulness of the whole food. There is no way to reconstruct a food to be as healthful as in its original form.

Some manage to drink veggies on the go often masked with sweet juices but unfortunately, this adds sugar which we don't need and macerates the soluble fiber that ultimately speeds sugar into the bloodstream.

We need enough vegetables for our bodies to function well. We don't need or want megadoses of micronutrients which have toxicity symptoms.  We are looking for the balance that whole foods give us.

As an entry point to changing tastes and behaviors, price and convenience are key. Put both great price and convenience together with a great taste and you have success. If any one of these items are missing, it's an uphill battle.

So let's make veggies affordable, accessible, easy to eat and add a dip made from beans or yogurt to add flavor.  Add a savory flavor - fat and protein added to the snack or meal instead of eating alone or with fruits which add more sugar works well. Cook them in a soup to soften their texture but retain the fiber. Stuff them raw or baked. Use vegetables to make a wrap such as lettuce wraps or cucumber wraps. Share some recipes in the comments.

Don't compare vegetables to other foods. Love them at their best for what they offer naturally!

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About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!