Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Food should taste good

A few months ago my husband and I made some rather dramatic changes to our family's diet, ditching most grains, sugar, and processed foods in favor of a diet that is heavily weighted towards meats, eggs, vegetables, natural oils, fruits, nuts and some dairy. We're not following anything specific, but did a lot of research and decided to soundly reject the "low fat" mantra we've heard our whole lives. We now enjoy a lot of butter.

Not long ago, I overheard a bit of a conversation between a trainer and her client at my gym. She was talking about the importance of following the diet she had laid out for the client and how, "You really need to just think of food as fuel now, not eat for enjoyment." What has struck me during this time (among other things), is that the low-fat idea did a lot to take away our enjoyment of food. I think part of the trainer's message was something to the effect of, "Don't sit in front of the TV and eat a tub of ice cream just because it tastes good." But there's another side to that message - if you're enjoying what you eat, it must be bad for you, and therefore shouldn't be eaten without a healthy dose of guilt.

But why can't good for you food taste good? The problem is, stripping the fat out of everything leaves a lot to be desired in the taste arena. Take broccoli, for example. A very good-for-you green vegetable, and some people are fine eating it plain. But slather on some butter, and whammo - that's good stuff. My kids eat it up like crazy. They've even been known to ask for broccoli with their lunch (ok, I'm bragging a little there.) The point is, fat makes food taste good. And that isn't a bad thing!

If your dinner plate doesn't have a big pile of nutritionally useless carbs on it (which may as well be a bowl of sugar), you have all kinds of caloric room for fat. And the truth of it is, fat isn't bad for you. Even the saturated kind! I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But I'm convinced that the "low-fat" diet is not only ineffective, it's counterproductive and very often harmful. Plus, it tastes like crap.

I want my food to taste good. And it does. I'm no gourmet cook, but I do love cooking and I love making food that gets lots of "Mmmmms," from the people at my table. I love that we eat things with butter, cook things in oils, and add bacon. Our food is delicious, and it is so freeing to enjoy something without feeling guilty about what I've eaten. Even when I treat myself to something "off the menu" like a sugary dessert, I don't fret. I know it's not the norm and so my body isn't going to automatically paste it to my thighs.

Food should taste good, and good food - real food - does. So slather on some butter, crumble some bacon on top, and enjoy!

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