Imagine this situation: you arrive home hungry after a long, hard day’s work, open the fridge and feel like you are eating a cake. With a heavy heart, you are forced to take a healthy seed cracker instead of an unhealthy, caloric meal. Finally you can breathe – scientists claim that no one can decide what’s healthy for you except yourself.
When we eat something that is not actually eaten, it creates a feeling of being full, but not pleasure. Science says that the absorption of nutrients largely depends on the degree of enjoyment of the food consumed.
When you are on a diet of “healthy”, tasteless, monotonous foods, experts say, then, they are in fact unhealthy when compared to the food you eat. A 1977 study that everyone apparently forgot found that much more nutrients are absorbed by foods we truly enjoy.
The research processed data based on two groups of respondents. The first group consisted of women from Thailand, and the second group consisted of Swedes. Both groups ate South Asian food, a favorite of Thai women, and quite undesirable for Swedish women. The results showed that Thai women absorbed almost 50 percent more nutrients than Swedes, resulting in better nutrition and health benefits from the meal itself.
Determined to test whether pleasure, not biological differences, affects nutritional difference, the researchers changed the look of the meal – the ingredients were mashed. Thai women then thought the food was tasteless and when consuming the meal, although it was made from the same ingredients as the previous one, absorbed 70 percent less iron than the first time. They ate the same meal but did not enjoy it.
The human brain is a powerful machine. Much of the digestive system is controlled by the signals it sends. When you eat foods that you like, the brain sends signals for good digestion.
Of course, if you eat donuts that you adore every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at one point the donuts will get bored. You may start craving vegetables, however amazing it may sound.
Your body is smart – often looking for what it needs. You must have eaten small portions of healthy food all day long and watched it, and then suddenly needed ice cream at night. The brain is likely to receive prolonged hunger signals and therefore sends a new signal to eat something sweet and nutritious.
When some impulses turn off and some are forced, trouble arises. It disrupts the natural flow of things – it creates a sense of guilt, frustration and leads to eating large amounts of food that we do not like. And by doing so we absorb less nutrients.
The lesson that can be drawn from this research would be – eat what you like when you feel the need and adjust to your body.