Updated: Jul 9
If it doesn’t taste good, then it must be what I need to lose or maintain weight, right? Nothing could be further from the truth! You do not have to sacrifice taste for nutrition. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to sacrifice any of your favorites in the name of a well-balanced diet. March is National Nutrition Month, and this is the perfect time to make sure that you can enjoy your tasty favorites in a responsible way.
Taste and flavor are often thought to be the same, but the specific flavor of most foods and beverages actually comes more from smell than it does from taste. Taste is defined as the ability to identify sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savory) qualities of a dissolved substance through the taste buds on your tongue. Although each of these qualities is a factor of “taste,” smell is a significant part of how we perceive what we taste, or the flavor of foods.
In considering favorite foods, it’s the taste that makes people reach for more. Whether it is comfort food, snack food, fast food or home cooking, if the items don’t deliver on taste, we’re not satisfied. Making wise food choices can be a weighty issue, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut favorites out of your diet. All foods can be part of a healthy diet; you can enjoy full calorie selections if you monitor the portions you’re eating and include some type of physical activity in your schedule.
The key is keeping an eye on portion size for the foods and beverages you enjoy while also including choices that are nutrient rich. For example, if pizza with all the toppings is one of your favorites, opt for more vegetables or go meatless sometimes, and limit the size and number of slices you eat. If grab-and-go sandwiches are your lunch of choice, choose whole grain breads and lean meats such as turkey or chicken. If you’ve got a sweet tooth and can’t miss dessert, consider fresh seasonal fruit and Greek-style yogurt in exchange for indulgent sweets. On occasions when you’re served a rich dessert, limit the amount you eat too just half of it.
Beverages and staying well-hydrated also play an important part in developing and maintaining healthy eating habits. Drink plenty of fluids and remember that all beverages count, including coffee, tea and soda. Again, portion size and calorie balance are key, so if you love ice-cold soft drinks, stock up on diet soda or 90-calorie mini-cans, keeping a few on ice.
Here’s more good news: grocery shopping is going to get easier for the nutrition conscious. Though labels have included nutrition information for more than 20 years, “Facts Up Front” is an initiative that literally brings important information from the Nutrition Facts Panel, typically found on the back of food and beverage products, right to the front of the label in a simple, clear, and easy-to-use format.
These are just a few of the tools to help tip the scales toward healthier eating as you make wise food and beverage choices. It is not about eating well one month, but throughout the year, opting to put good tasting, nutrient-rich foods on your plate. Keep these guidelines top of mind as you choose what and how much to eat. Remember good nutrition is essential for your overall health and well-being.
Take Away: You can enjoy any of the foods that bring you pleasure. As long as you opt for moderation in food choices and include physical activity as a regular part of your lifestyle, you don’t have to eliminate foods you like from your diet.
Michelle J. Stewart is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator better known as the Nutrition Planner who has been leading the way to a healthier you for more than 25 years. Michelle is a Certified Wellness Coach whose motto is “EAT LESS MOVE MORE”. She is a consultant for the food and beverage industry, including formerly with The Coca-Cola Company, and offers expertise in corporate wellness, weight loss surgery, menu and product development. All opinions expressed are her own.
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