Did you know that foods we enjoy can be more nutritious than foods we don’t like?
It’s true! Get comfy and buckle up — this blog post is quite the ride.
Our digestion (and absorption) of food is influenced by many different factors. Including what we ate, whether we exercised, our stress levels, and even how much we enjoyed our food.
For many years, studies have reported that the nutritional value of food can vary based on how much we enjoy it. As early as 1977, a study reported that people absorb more nutrients from foods they enjoy than foods they dislike. In this study, a Thai group and a Swedish group of women were fed a Southeast Asian dish that was popular amongst Thai women but not favoured by the Swedish women. When both groups consumed this meal, the Thai women absorbed almost 50% more nutrients from the meal than the Swedish women.
To confirm these results and make sure it wasn’t just a fluke, the exact same Southeast Asian meal was then blended into a purée to remove some of the “appeal” from the dish. Both groups consumed the puréed meal, but this time, the Thai women absorbed 70% less iron than they had from the regular meal.
The only difference between the two meals?
The Thai women enjoyed it less. Both the regular meal and the puréed meals contained the exact same nutrients.
Since this initial study, many more have reported similar findings.
But why does this happen?
Think of it this way — if we are turned off from eating it, our body is turned off from digesting it.
Why is it Important to Eat Food You Love?
So what if we absorb more nutrients from meals we enjoy? For starters, it suggests that those “icky” diet meals that people are always suggesting we try aren’t as nutritious as the meals that we actually enjoy eating. Scarifying our enjoyment of a meal just for a few extra nutrients may actually be backfiring. If we are eating a meal that we are not a fan of, just because it is “healthier,” we won’t absorb as many nutrients as we would if we enjoyed the meal. This begs the question, is it really more nutritious for us?
It also suggests that the nutritional facts aren’t the law (which we already knew, right?). Although that lovely label on the back of food products, or next to menu items, is very helpful for getting an idea of what is in the food, it is not perfect. . Although a nutrition label may tell us 2/3 cups of this food contains 15g of calcium, that does not necessarily mean our bodies will absorb 15 g of calcium — especially if we don’t like the food.
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No more blind dieting or trying random “healthy” recipes from friends in hopes of getting results. Whether losing weight or managing a condition, I can help you incorporate foods you enjoy into your diet. Boosting your nutrient absorption and support you in achieving your goals.