One common question I’ve heard a lot of people ask is, “Why does healthy food taste bad?”
When you’re given a choice between chocolates and legumes, there is a high chance that you would go for chocolates.
And who could blame you?
Chocolates make you feel so good.
However, there is something you probably don’t know.
These junk foods contain ingredients that intentionally induce these feelings.
So, let’s take a look at why healthy food tastes bad and how you can start up on a more nutritious meal plan for better health.
Why do unhealthy foods taste better?
If you had to pick between carrots and a bag of chips, you would most likely go for the bag of chips or at least fight off a whole lot of temptation to drop the carrots.
It’s not just you. This is something a lot of us struggle with.
All you have to do is take a look at the global obesity levels to see how much of a problem this is!
But the truth is, unhealthy foods are really irresistible.
Why do unhealthy foods taste better?
Why does healthy food taste bad?
Actually, our brains are being tricked into thinking that unhealthy foods taste amazing.
These foods contain a lot of sweeteners and sugars that appeal to our taste buds more than vegetables.
Why is healthy food disgusting?
So, why is healthy food disgusting when it’s evident that our body needs healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables to function optimally?
We prefer sweet things
From a genetic point of view, we inherited the preferences of our ancestors for sweet-tasting foods as a form of survival instinct.
Several thousand years ago, our survival depended on our ability to consume the right amount of calories that would help us carry out our primal activities.
And after all, most sugary foods naturally contain more calories than those which are low in sugar!
Avoiding foods that didn’t taste sweet helped in limiting our exposure to poisons or rancid foods.
However, now that we have evolved past this sort of life, these survival instincts are no longer necessary.
We have moved on, and now we live in a calorie surplus world.
Unfortunately, though, we haven’t evolved enough to survive in this new environment.
Marketing and exposure
How many times have you come across an ad about celery or broccoli?
I don’t think I have ever seen an advertisement for these, and they lack a certain marketable appeal.
Compared to potato chips or chocolate ice cream, which we see companies shoving in our faces all day, every day, you can see that the difference is clear.
There is obviously more junk food advertising than the promotion of healthy foods.
Junk food companies use very compelling advertising strategies.
Watching an ice cream ad where a lady tells you that you deserve a treat after a hectic day at work or nostalgic advertisements that remind you of all the fun you had eating processed cereal make healthy eating difficult.
Some ads also throw shades on healthy eating, making it too expensive or unappealing compared to stuffing your face with cake.
A key genetic influence on our sense of taste is from our birth mothers.
While in the womb, the maternal diet is what shaped our taste preferences.
Through the amniotic fluid and breast milk, they introduced us to unique food aromas and flavors.
However, remember that not all babies are breastfed.
Still, formula-fed babies develop their taste preferences through bottle feeding.
When we introduce babies to a wide variety of new textures and flavors, they will be more comfortable with trying out different foods throughout their lifetime.
So, why does healthy food taste bad?
As you can imagine, babies that aren’t exposed to the taste of other foods have limited preferences.
The quality of our environment also contributes to which foods we end up enjoying as adults.
For example, food accompanied by conflict or tension will condition our young brains to associate that food with negative feelings.
However, when there are feelings of joy or excitement after the introduction to a portion of food for the first time, we grow more accustomed to eating it.
Why does healthy food taste bad?
You may find that healthy food is disgusting if you have been genetically primed to love junk foods.
While most people are born with a natural preference for sweet foods, some also have an even stronger hatred for bitter tastes from foods like broccoli, brussels sprouts, or grapefruit.
These preferences can be inherited.
Some geographical areas have unique cuisine enjoyed exclusively by the locals.
Why healthy food tastes bad to you
There are two significant reasons why healthy food tastes bad to you.
You eat engineered junk food
We live in a world where we are surrounded by junk food, and this is responsible for the exponential rise in obesity around the world.
However, away from genetics and geographical preferences, there is one more major reason why healthy food tastes bad to you.
Junk food has been engineered to supersede the innate energy balance mechanisms of our body.
This means that junk food tastes so good simply because it has been intentionally processed to taste this way!
Now, compare this to naturally occurring fruits and vegetables that contain no additives or preservatives.
In short, junk foods contain a strategic combination of salt, fat, and sugar.
These bypass our conscious control mechanisms and stimulate our brains so much that we are compelled to overeat.
You’re preparing it all wrong
Why does healthy food taste bad?
Another reason why healthy food tastes bad to you could also lie in the preparation technique.
If you aren’t incorporating variety into your recipes or preparing your foods properly, then of course it’s going to taste bad.
It takes a lot of practice to understand the rudiments of cooking and those aspects that we usually take for granted.
It could be something as simple as using the right spices or picking the best cuts of meat at the grocery store.
Everything is essential when it comes to making the best out of your natural ingredients.
Sadly, food traditions are not being passed down through families as accurately as they should.
There is a junk food revolution that is forcing cooking skills into the background.
A lot of people feel like they don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to preparing something that doesn’t just come out of a can.
How To Eat Less Junk Food
Here are some practical tips to help you eat less junk food:
Plan your snacks
Be very deliberate about the kind of snacks you have around your home or even at work.
Keep healthy snacks handy.
You can have some nuts, yogurt, or a piece of fruit in your bag or the fridge.
Keep them somewhere that you can reach quickly rather than grabbing something unhealthy.
Drink more water
Have a water bottle handy so that you can drink water any time you’re thirsty instead of energy drinks or soda.
You can add mint or lemon to your water to give it some flavor.
Take more protein
Protein-based meals like milk, yogurt, cheese, fish, eggs, chicken, tofu, nuts, and legumes are great substitutes for junk foods.
They make you less likely to munch on junk foods between meals as they induce the feeling of being full.
Start your day right
How you start your day matters a lot. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast, which will reduce your craving for unhealthy foods throughout the day.
Instead of stuffing your face with doughnuts, take a smoothie, baked beans, or porridge.
A banana is also great if you’re in a hurry and need something on the go.
Out with the old
Swap out processed foods for healthier alternatives that taste just as good.
Instead of savory snacks, you could indulge in whole-grain crackers.
Grapes, blueberries, oats, unbuttered popcorn, and nuts are also great alternatives to biscuits and chocolate.
Practice mindful eating
Be intentional about what goes into your body.
If you’re prone to snacking on junk food while you’re on your phone or in front of the television, then you need to let go of this habit.
Instead, turn off your screens when you’re able to and pay attention to how much you’re eating.
Focus on the delicious taste of your treats.
Don’t mindlessly eat; this way, you will be less likely to overeat.
Cut junk food out of your expenses
When you’re grocery shopping at the supermarket, it can be tempting to slip king-sized chocolate bars into your trolley.
Instead of this, set aside a specific amount that you can spend on junk foods.
Never go above your budget.
Gradually, you will get it out of your expenses completely.
Pack your lunch
While at work is the time when most people consume a lot of takeaways filled with cookies, soft drinks, and tons of unhealthy foods.
Fast food is usually the choice while you’re neck-deep in paperwork.
However, you can cut down on your junk food intake by taking a packed lunch to work.
Since you’re preparing this yourself, it will, of course, include nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables instead of the processed ingredients which are so common with fast foods.
3 Reasons Why Unhealthy Foods Taste So Good
Why do healthy foods taste so bad, and unhealthy foods taste so good?
Here are three reasons why unhealthy foods taste so good:
They are biologically addictive
Potato chips, donuts, biscuits, fries, and cakes are all junk foods that have something in common.
They are absolutely delicious, but that’s not all.
They are also all low in protein but high in carbs and fat. Here comes the interesting part.
Several millennia ago, humans had to survive for an extended period without food.
During this time, stored fat in the body would undergo several processes to generate energy.
Therefore, they had to eat to store fat, and this had to be pleasurable to encourage us to eat more than we actually needed.
The bottom line is – we’re biologically wired to eat foods that make us feel good.
In other words, foods that release the feel-good hormone known as dopamine.
And which foods are these?
Well, you guessed right… those foods which are high in carbs and fats.
They are filled with flavor enhancers
Junk foods contain flavor and the truth is, this is not just any flavor.
It is actually a chemical called Monosodium Glutamate.
This chemical was accidentally created by a food scientist more than a hundred years ago in Japan.
He was messing around with seaweed and discovered that it made food tastier.
This food scientist processed it into a white powder and then named it Umami.
And now the bad news.
According to experts, Monosodium Glutamate causes general weakness, numbness, muscle tightness, and headaches.
So, it’s not just making you overeat while deceiving you with the appearance of being tasty, but it’s also damaging your body more than you know.
It changes your gut flora
I’m not going to dive into the complex science governing our gut flora, but here is an overview.
Our gut has a specialized environment that allows trillions of bacteria to thrive.
Now, not all of them are harmful to your body, as some called probiotics are beneficial.
However, they need food to generate energy that they need to survive, just like other cells in the body.
Probiotics love to feed on healthy food while the bad bacteria tend to prefer junk foods.
So, when you eat more unhealthy foods, you’re killing off the good bacteria while allowing the bad ones to flourish.
The more they grow, the more your cravings for unhealthy food grow.
As you crave junk foods, they continue to taste so good with each bite.
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Junk foods are so harmful to you that they could even reduce your lifespan.
Imagine having to struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension because you indulged in sweets.
You have the power to embrace a healthy life right now.
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