Don’t you just hate how the good things in life are either fattening or just expensive? You’re not the first person to be disappointed by this reality. If you choose between an apple and a donut, you would definitely go for the latter.
Nutritious meals are usually bland, for which you might wonder – why do healthy foods taste bad? There are a couple of reasons behind this, including scientific ones.
But don’t worry; you can hack your way into enjoying healthy food. Let’s get right into it!
Why Do Healthy Foods Taste Bad?
Many people share this feeling, including the fitness freaks you see on social media. Let’s look at the science behind why our taste buds won’t cooperate with our body’s wellbeing.
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How you were conditioned to eat:
Your first solid foods as a baby were possibly healthy choices. Infant’s stomachs are very sensitive to processed foods, so our parents fed us fresh and natural ingredients. But you probably don’t remember what you initially ate when you were very young.
As you got older, you discovered “yummy” options like sugar and carbs, which mainly were fried. It is tough to feed toddlers, let alone give them vegetables and fruit. At one point, it is expected that our parents gave up and let us consume unhealthy options.
So, junk food is the earliest food we remember having. This is why our taste buds have developed a liking for meals that are not good for the body. And since processed foods are effortless to eat and obtain, we tend to be lazy and go for what requires minimal effort to prepare.
It’s Our Ancestors’ Fault:
Unhealthy foods are usually categorized as carbs, fat, sugars, and salts. These groups are transformed into energy very quickly after consumption. For example, you may have noticed how pepped up you feel after eating a bar of chocolate.
Our brains are wired to crave things that give us immediate power after eating. Carbs and fat provide lots of energy.
In earlier times, hunters would hunt animals for meat, and gatherers would collect greens. However, there were more significant amounts of plants around, which were easy to find.
Likewise, plants were higher in quantity than wildlife that could be hunted. This resulted in humans inclined towards meat more than plants to get that quick burst of energy. But when something is available in abundance, people easily lose interest.
Wanting to Stay Energized for Longer:
Meat has high-fat contents, which keep people full for longer after eating. The sugar in fruits gets digested very fast. Stomachs being full for long periods saved people from looking for food too often.
Plant-based grub became boring, so people put in more effort to hunt animals for meat. This is how evolution has taught us to adapt to this change in taste.
Humans eventually discovered bread and found it could be stored for a long time without rotting. Bread is extremely high in carbohydrates, and this food group is what provides the most energy. Hence, most people now enjoy foods that help keep them full for more extended periods instead of plants.
So now you can make sense of why you would choose to eat a burger instead of a salad. The latter does provide energy, but not as immediately as junk food will.
Stress is such a common state of mind that we all just reach for desserts when unhappy or anxious. We do this as a response to the discomfort we feel.
When we are under stress, our brain needs more power to function. Carbohydrates in the body break down into sugar and release energy. Your nervous system knows what food group can provide more energy, and hence, we seek things like brownies and cookies.
Sugar present in cakes, ice cream, candy, etc., causes the brain to release serotonin. As a result, we end up feeling calm and happy. This is why people choose to eat sugary foods, as it causes comfort from feeling stressed or anxious.
Since we now know the scientific reason behind craving unhealthy food, it makes sense why healthy choices taste bad to us. The brain is aware of what would provide more energy and calmness. Therefore, it sends signals and makes us want what is generally bad for our health.
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Can I Make Myself Like Healthy Foods?
You will be surprised to know that you can train your brain to like those icky veggies! Just as we can train our brain to learn something, we can teach it to unlearn. The following are some ways in which you can achieve this:
Use Healthy Substitutes:
Trick your mind into liking healthy food by making them appear unhealthy. Use lettuce instead of bread for sandwiches, sweet potato fries rather than regular potatoes, oat, or almond flour instead of all-purpose flour, etc. These substitutes are low in calories and high in fiber which is good for the body.
Oil is bad for the heart in general. Try baking instead of frying, or use an air fryer that does the same job but with minimal oil.
Skip the rice and eat cauliflower fried “rice,” just the grated vegetable with chicken breast and other greens. Freeze your yogurt and turn it into a dessert!
Your taste buds won’t enjoy the healthy change in one day. Like all other learning processes, trying to like something that tastes bad will take time.
Incorporate vegetables and other greens into your diet gradually. Start this by setting a specific meal of the day with only healthy foods. Then slowly, you can add more nutritious choices to your lunch and dinner.
If all you have is healthy food in sight, that is what you will end up eating. Stop buying junk food and always keep your fridge filled with fresh produce. Remove all the food delivery apps from your phone. That way, you won’t get tempted to order takeout.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you get used to the taste of healthy food?
It is easy to get used to things but not necessarily enjoy them. So even if you find yourself eating healthy food regularly, you will eventually get bored of it.
Why do green vegetables taste the worst?
Green vegetables and leaves such as lettuce, zucchini, spinach, and gourd taste bitter because of a chemical group called glucosinolates. These are very helpful in preventing cancer.
Is it okay to add salt and sugar to healthy salads?
Salt and sugar in large amounts are bad for your body as they raise calories and blood pressure. But there is no harm in taking controlled amounts occasionally.
Are fried vegetables okay to eat?
Fried anything, be it grains or vegetables, lose their natural nutrient value. The heat in the oil takes away most of the nutrients and just adds more fat to it overall, so it is better not to fry vegetables either.
Eating clean can be difficult, especially when “clean” doesn’t taste good. There are many food groups, so why do healthy foods taste bad? Factual reasons for this feeling exist that are backed up by science.
You can teach your palate to like the more nutritious options with a few mind tricks. In the end, it’s not just your body that it is who will thank you, but also your tongue.