I used to think a healthy lifestyle and eating salads were one and the same thing. But if we're invested in eating healthy as a lifestyle is this a good health tip?
When you take the mind body connection into account maybe not! There is research that shows that - eating what you don't enjoy appears to retard nutrient absorption. Check out this research. Researchers fed a traditional Thai meal of rice and vegetables spiked with chili paste, fish sauce, and coconut cream to a group of Swedish and another of Thai women. The Thai women, who enjoyed the meal the Swedish women didn't, absorbed 50 percent more iron from the same food than the Swedish women. Then, when the meal was blended into an unfamiliar and unpalatable paste, Thai’s absorption of iron from the same meal but robbed of it's appearance and texture decreased by 70 percent! (1)
As Dr. Linda Bacon concludes: "... choking down the plate of steamed broccoli (if you hate steamed broccoli) is not likely to do you as much good as you think." In other words, a healthy lifestyle and eating with enjoyment is an important nutritional practice. When creating a new healthy eating lifestyle, eating with mindful enjoyment might need to be a part of your planning.
In addition, in reality it isn't one bit healthy to eat salad because I 'have to' when what I am really wanting is chocolate. There are two reasons for this. When I eat salad, but when that doesn't hit the spot, then I land up having a slice of bread with honey and as that doesn't quite hit the spot, I have something else, until, finally I break down and land up eating that chocolate I wanted in the first place. Has that ever happened to you?
In that case eating a salad was actually unhealthy eating. Savoring the flavor of a chocolate would have been much better because it would have satisfied me and I wouldn't have landed up bingeing. A healthy lifestyle and eating habits that satisfy what you really want rather than restriction and deprivation are more likely to work over the longer term.
And if you can't go anywhere without packing in your own food because of your eating fear (of both calories and the nutrition); and if you're struggling with anxiety after eating - that's not eating healthy, that's disordered eating. Your attempts at eating well - have landed you in eating hell! And what's more, your cells are experiencing your stress, and reacting accordingly with stress hormones so that's not one bit healthy either because we need to be beating stress for better health. As this study done with rats (2) states: "Stress is an important factor in the development of addiction and in addiction relapse, and may contribute to an increased risk for obesity and other metabolic diseases. Uncontrollable stress changes eating patterns and the salience and consumption of hyperpalatable foods..."
Us humans have an interesting thing that happens to us as a result of a small part of our brain - the Reticulation Activation System- that makes us much more focussed on things we tell ourselves we shouldn't be thinking about. Tell me I mustn't think of a gleaming red porsche - that's all I can see in my minds eye. Tell me donuts are bad and I can't have them and all I can think about are donuts. What's forbidden grows psychological hooks.
Is healthy eating all those low fat, no fat and processed foods? Take a look at the ingredients in them. Although they are marketed as 'health foods' many are highly processed and would barely quality as food never mind 'eating healthily.' Many diet foods are blatantly unhealthy.
(1) Hallberg L, Bjorn-Rasmussen E, Rossander L, Suwanik R. Iron absorption from Southeast Asian diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 1977;30:539-548.
(2) Yau YHC, Potenza MN. Stress and Eating Behaviors. Minerva endocrinologica. 2013;38(3):255-267.
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