Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Not another article on dieting

Yes, not just another article on dieting, but one that is well worth reading.

In this carefully considered piece, food writer Bee Wilson discusses how healthy eating is a learned behaviour that we can change, and is something that extends well beyond simply knowing which foods are 'good' or 'bad'. We may not know which is the best of all diets, and nutrition science often produces contradictory headlines, but this masks the bigger issue of out cultural reluctance to change our behaviours and preferences e.g. a default assumption from parents is that their children won't like vegetables and fruits. I particularly like her point that well intentioned acts such as covertly sneaking vegetables in food, or feeding children healthy equivalents of foods that are packaged like junk foods (e.g. healthy crisps), does the opposite of encouraging healthy eating behaviours.

"We think we are being clever when we smuggle some beetroot into a cake. Ha! Tricked you into eating root vegetables! But since the child is not conscious that they are consuming beetroot, the main upshot is to entrench their liking for cake. A far cleverer thing would be to help children learn to become adults who choose vegetables consciously, of their own accord."

"There are three big things we would all benefit from learning to do: to follow structured mealtimes; to respond to our own internal cues for hunger and fullness, rather than relying on external cues such as portion size; and to make ourselves open to trying a variety of foods. All these three can be taught to children, which suggests that adults could learn them too."

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