We have been fed a lie. The lie that processed junk food is better tasting that healthier alternatives. Large corporations have been pummelling us with advertising for the last 50 years and we have been convinced that their food MUST taste better! If you say something often enough it starts to become real. I am not convinced that junk food tastes better than healthier alternatives.
The mind has a huge impact on how we view the world. Different people will see the same situation in totally different ways due to their preconceived assumptions. You can see this in the way people hold political or cultural beliefs. The same is true of food! Research has found that people will rate foods as tastier if they have been told it is unhealthy. The brain is a strong influencer on our taste and means that taste is very subjective.
Vegetables are the most commonly mentioned food when people are asked what foods taste bad. Often people will say they do not like them without really ever trying them. Even if you truly hate a few vegetables that you have tried, there are hundreds more to choose from. Keep looking around!
The biggest reasons vegetables don’t taste good is because they are not fresh and they are not cooked well. When shopping for vegetables make sure you are getting good quality ones that are fresh. Look for different recipes to cook them and don’t think you have to stick to plain old steaming or boiling to get your vegetables in.
Our concept of flavor is a mixture of a range of different senses. If we regularly eat junk food our palate can become used to that and not feel that healthy food tastes as good. Over time, regularly eating healthy food will taste better and better. I can attest to this fact as I used to consume far more junk food when I was younger and now I don’t have the ‘taste’ for it.
Also keep in mind that many ‘healthy’ foods are not going to be tasty because they are still poorly prepared. A roadside sandwich is probably not all that healthy anyway and it certainly doesn’t taste very good. A prepackaged microwave dinner might claim to be healthy but it also won’t be very appealing on the taste side of things.
Addicted to the rush
A lot of junk food makes our bodies respond in the same way it does to addictive drugs. A big junk food meal overstimulates us and gives us a feel-good dopamine rush. A smoker doesn’t like the taste of the tobacco, they like the feeling that comes from it. In the same way junk food can become a means to an end. Whilst it may subjectively taste ‘good’ there is a big addictive component to eating the food which is difficult to separate from the taste. This addictive quality of junk food skews our ability to determine what is tasty and what we are eating to feel good.
Making positive associations
So how do we make better associations with food? Firstly we need to admit that there is a problem with the way healthy food is portrayed. Then we need to realize that we have the power ourselves to change these associations. It may take you some time but there is no reason you cannot change your mental assumptions to healthy food.
Here are a few ways to make better associations with food:
Learn to cook
Another big reason that healthy food is seen as tasting bad is due to a lack of cooking and preparation ability. The same ingredients in different hands will wind up tasting very different. Learning to cook is one of the most overlooked ways of improving your health and fitness. Cooking should not be seen as an impossible task, it is very achievable to be able to cook up basic healthy and tasty meals on your own. Cooking will empower you to make your own healthy foods and not have to rely on others or prepackaged foods.
Healthy food does NOT have to taste bad. People have thrived for thousands of years without eating processed foods. I am not against the occasional eating of some junk food but making it a regular part of your diet is unlikely to help you with your health and fitness goals! You can learn to love healthy food just as much as unhealthy food. Make the conscious decision today to change the association and remember that healthy food tastes good.
Do you think healthy food tastes good?