Eating Healthier Can Be Realistic

Eating Healthier Can Be Realistic

So often I hear that we ("American's") do not eat healthy. While most adults know that fruits and vegetables are "good for you" we still don't eat enough of them—But why? One reason is simply for the sake of enjoyment. As Emily Dickinson explained, “The mere sense of living is joy enough.” And we spend more than 4 percent of our lives eating, and many more hours dreaming about food, shopping for food and preparing meals. Food is a BIG part of how much we "enjoy" the mere sense of living. Yes, sugars and fats are part of what makes foods enjoyable. 

One lesson in all of this is to simply eat healthier. You do not need to eat all healthy foods; you just need to add a few more healthy foods, and you can even eat them with the foods you love. Eating healthy portions with the foods you love can also increase how much you like those healthier foods. In one study I authored, children increased their liking for the sour taste of grapefruit juice after tasting it sweetened for only 20 days. Even a month after we stopped sweetening the drink, children continued to report a high liking for the grapefruit juice. My research has shown similar increases in how much college students like vegetables, which can taste bitter.

Ultimately, if you don’t enjoy eating healthier, you will eventually stop eating healthier. For many, the foods in our diet are a big part of how we experience the mere sense of living. Making small changes to eat healthier than we do now can help us savor that experience while also eating healthier. So, please continue to enjoy the great tastes and foods you love, and add more healthy options as you go to help you improve the healthfulness of your diet and enjoy eating healthier while you eat them.