We all know it’s easy to love the food we eat, but does your food love you back?
At Empowered Wellness camps, with our young adults and teens, we work hard to find food that are nutrient dense and enjoyable.
Here are four signs your food loves you:
Sign 1: You like the food you eat.
Food looks and tastes delicious.
Nothing screams “unsustainable” more than a diet that consists of foods you don’t actually like to eat. Therefore, it’s extremely important for you make a concerted effort to identify, and fill your kitchen with, health supporting foods that you actually love to eat!
Don’t like salad greens? Then don’t eat them! There are plenty of other vegetables in the fields. You can even make cold salads that utilize things like shaved carrots, cucumbers, or broccoli as the base instead of traditional green leafy options.
Never really in the mood for chicken? Who cares when there are so many different ways to get protein in your diet! Fish, pork, lean beef, ground turkey, cheese, eggs, beans, and tofu are just some of the many excellent protein sources that you can include in your diet.
Just identify which ones you enjoy and find a way to incorporate some protein in each meal and snack.
Sign 2: You feel satisfied.
A reasonable portion provides extended satisfaction.
There are some foods out there that you may find visually appealing and flavorful, but in order to feel any sense of satiety, you have to consume an entire family size bag of that item.
Other foods may fill you up on a reasonable portion but leave you feeling hungry just a short while later.
Foods that love you back will be those that allow you to meet your health goals without leaving you feeling constantly hungry.
For example, although you like cereal and breakfast tacos equally for breakfast, you may find that the tacos actually love you back as, unlike the cereal, they keep you full until lunch.
Sign 3: You get what you need.
Food gives you what your body needs.
Eating food not only provides you with a pleasurable experience, it also provides you with everything you need to keep your body functioning.
Ask yourself, is the food I’m going to eat giving me something my body needs? For example, does it provide sustained energy to keep me physically and mentally active? Does it offer essential vitamins and minerals to keep my bones, muscles, skin, hair, etc. healthy? Does it offer a nutrient that the other foods/beverages in my meal do not provide?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then the food is loving you back in at least one important way. On the other hand, if the answer is “no” to questions like these, you may want to consider finding an alternative food.
For example, if you’re about to eat a spaghetti dinner, and you’re deciding between a side dish of buttered breadsticks or grilled artichokes, you’d probably find the artichokes more loving as they provide essential vitamins and minerals that the rest of the meal does not (unlike the bread which has a similar nutrition profile to the pasta) and the additional fiber the artichokes provide will keep you full much longer than the fiber free breadstick.
Sign 4: You eat consciously.
Food is eaten consciously.
If you’re so distracted or rushed while you’re eating something that you don’t even consciously enjoy or tasted it, then you’re missing out on at least a portion of the “love” that a loveable food has to offer.
Food should provide a delicious, flavorful, and satisfying experience.
Also, food that is consumed without conscious preparation on your part usually means something that is eaten because it’s the only thing available or overeaten because you’ve gone too long between meals and you’re ravenous.
The more you consciously make an effort to ensure that loveable foods are within reach when you’re hungry, the more likely you will be to eat them!
Cari Coulter Thiede, RD, LD