Whole foods are much more delicious than processed food.
They are also more nutritious.
One strategy I recommend to all of my clients is that they drastically reduce the processed foods and increase the whole foods in their diet.
This leads to easier and more pleasurable weight loss.
When I was growing up we ate very few processed foods.
My Italian grandmother shunned restaurants and made delicious meals from scratch daily.
And my mother was into health foods long before it was popular.
This was during the 70s so there were very few health food stores around. We had to drive over a half-hour for the nearest one.
It was filled with dark barrels with bulk items such as brown rice, dried beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and interesting snacks like “carob bars”.
Our big treats included sesame sticks, freshly ground peanut butter, and unsweetened grape juice. There was no fluff, white bread, mac-n-cheese, or boxed cereal. There certainly were no hot dogs or salami. We had a huge garden filled with tons of veggies, berries, and flowers.
As a nutritionist, I am extremely appreciative of all the fresh, homemade food I was brought up on.
As a kid, I hated it.
I remember ditching my sandwiches on the way to school and using the coins I had scrounged up to buy the school lunch.
Before you judge, my sandwiches usually were made from homemade whole wheat bread, mayo, sprouts, and big thick slices of artisanal cheddar cheese (although the term artisanal didn’t really exist then). It was mortifying to bring that to school.
Once I was a teenager and I had a job and my own car I was able to indulge in all the things I had been “deprived of”.
One of my favorite things was to go to a diner with friends and eat a bacon cheeseburger with a chocolate milkshake.
It did lose its magic pretty quickly though.
By the time I was in my mid-20s, I became very interested in eating a healthy diet. Of course, I had no idea what that meant but I did my best.
Over the years I tried various approaches but any “diet” that required me to eat a bunch of processed food was short-lived.
At the time I didn’t have any awareness of the concept of processed food versus whole foods.
But now I recognize that those foods were less appealing to me because ultimately they did not have any depth of deliciousness.
Whole foods actually have a very deep level of deliciousness.
You may disagree.
But humor me for a moment.
We experience what we call “taste” in a few ways. What is actually happening is that we are experiencing “taste” only on our tongues.
There are 5 tastes and they are: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
Umami is a Japanese word for what we might call savory. It is a brothy or meaty taste that kind of coats the tongue and has a lingering effect. Foods that are rich in umami include seaweed, aged cheese (parmesan being the richest in umami), soy sauce, garlic, mushrooms, seafood, and cured meat.
Many processed foods have added umami, which we call MSG or monosodium glutamate.
This is part of the reason that we find processed food so appealing.
But this is all taste. There is so much more to our eating pleasure than taste!
We also experience aromas. Aromas are experienced through the sense of smell in the olfactory nerve in the nose.
Aroma opens up a whole world of eating experience to us which is very exciting.
One example of this is the experience you have when you eat cilantro versus parsley. They look very much alike and the texture is extremely similar (at least for flat-leaf parsley). But when you put them in your mouth you experience totally different aromas. The way you know the difference between the two is really about the aroma rather than any differences in taste.
The cool and amazing thing about this is that whole food is packed with a huge variety of aromas.
Just picture yourself experiencing a large fresh salad.
Imagine I made the salad with arugula, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, pumpkin seeds, artichoke hearts, olives, red onions, and some pickled beets. Then imagine I topped it with some extra virgin olive oil, a dash of lemon, some balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and minced garlic and tossed it all together.
Just take a moment to visualize what eating that salad would be like.
Would there be taste?
Yes, of course. You would have sweet, salty, sour, umami, and maybe even a little bitter if you added some radicchio or endive.
But add to that the many, many beautiful and varied levels of aroma you would find in the beets versus the tomatoes or the olives versus the arugula.
Wow! This is a taste and aroma explosion!
Okay, now that I have you all excited about the salad, imagine eating a potato chip.
If you had salt-and-vinegar chips you may have some salt and sour and most likely an artificial form of umami. But not much else going on there.
Usually, the potatoes are so processed there is little left of the original aroma.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s not fun to eat potato chips sometimes.
What I am saying is that you can have a much more exciting, varied, and deep flavor experience with whole foods than with processed foods. And this my dears, translate to more deliciousness and nutritiousness!
Part of the battle in losing weight is that we think we have to eat boring and bland foods and that simply is not true! If you focus on the plethora of enticing and interesting aromas that abound in whole foods you will never tire of eating them.
If you are trying to lose weight and struggling with staying on track and/or not knowing what to do I invite you to get on a free strategy call with me. We will go over your current goals and challenges and I will give you my professional opinion on what your best next steps should be.