Gourmets know you don’t need to eat a lot of good-tasting food to be satisfied. In fact, it’s the pleasure in the first bites that gratifies most; subsequent bites serve more to fill us up. Eating more just because of the flavor is sort of like a dog chasing its tail — you’ll never get the intense enjoyment of the first bites until you’re hungry again and your taste buds have had time to recover.
The trouble is, long-time dieters have subjected themselves for so long to the flavorless foods of typical diets, particularly when they’re in a hurry, they don’t appreciate the importance of eating food we like. Or if they do, they don’t remember the easy ways to bump up the flavor in food. Or they’re afraid of flavor-rich foods because of their fat or calorie content.
This FitBriefing, then, is dedicated to helping those among us who are hungry for good-tasting food that meets our time demands and health needs. Try these tips for really loving the healthy food you’re eating!
Healthy Eating Tips
- Keep it real. For the most part, foods that have been modified in fat, sugar, etc., don’t have the full-blown flavor of the original. Just think low-fat salad dressing vs. the full-fat variety. Forget modified foods; relish the flavor of the real thing for the most impact. That flavor can also mean you need to eat less to feel satisfied.
- Use rich foods as condiments. Blue cheese on a wedge of apple; goat cheese and/or toasted nuts topping a salad; avocado as a tasty spread for a turkey sandwich; oil-cured olives to add a flavor spark to primavera pasta; small bits of sautéed pancetta to really perk up a vegetable dish. The list goes on….
- Experiment with seasonings and lighter condiments to add flavor, too. Balsamic vinegar is a staple in Italian fare, used to add interest to vegetables, meats, even a topping for strawberries. If you’re feeling flush, invest in traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy; it’s expensive but a really special treat. A simple thing like lemon pepper also adds great flavor to grilled meats and vegetables.
- Enjoy satisfying desserts in small packages. Europeans often serve a small dark chocolate with a coffee. It’s all they need to satisfy their taste for something sweet. Or try a small scoop of really good ice cream or gelato over a bowl of fresh berries – so much better than a large bowl of a low-fat or sugar- free ice cream.
- Try different foods to add variety and interest to your meals. Get adventurous – try a different vegetable – one you’ve never tried before. For example, slice a fennel bulb, drizzle it with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill. The result is a fabulous side dish that’s a staple in Italy but little known in many parts of the U.S. Become a salsa aficionado – fruit salsas can transform grilled chicken or fish.
- Use oils. Dieters now fear carbohydrates but still have concern about eating any kind of fat – fat will make you fat, right? Wrong. The truth is people who have the least trouble managing their weight realize that healthy eating includes all types of foods, and use high calorie/high flavor options as a way to satisfy. So let go of the fear! Fat adds flavor and satiety value to meals. And oils add much needed nutrition in the form of essential fatty acids to the diet. If you’re adding too much, it’s likely to be obvious. The dish will be swimming in oil and won’t be as delicious as it could be if the oil was added in proper proportions. If you’re uncertain about your ability to judge, use a good cookbook or try recipes from cooking magazines like Bon Appetit, Cook’s Illustrated or Cooking Light.
Use your imagination…and savor the flavor! Review our healthy eating recipes for healthy weight management, too.