Deep Dive

HYPERPALATABILITY

Even if you make every healthy meal absolutely delicious, it is hard to completely get over your cravings for modern foods. Partly, this is because your brain never forgets and can easily push you back into your old habits. But partly it is because of the food itself. By design, most modern packaged foods are developed to be extremely palatable.

Palatability is not often discussed by nutritionists, because on the surface it seems like a subjective measure. What you find delicious might be different from what the nutritionist finds delicious. Unfortunately, we are more predictable than we like to admit. Humans have evolved to like sugar and fat, because those are high density nutrients that provide a lot of bang for your buck. We have also evolved to like salt, because in nature anything salty indicates healthy minerals.

Food companies spend millions researching the correct balance between these flavors. You may think there is a big difference between sweet and savoury snacks, but in reality these are just subtle differences across a narrow spectrum. Oatmeal cookies are made with 15% fat, 65% sugars and starches and 0,4% salt. Hamburgers and pizza’s are made with 10% fat, 30% sugars and starches and 0,5% salt. Different, sure, but not that different. Now compare that to broccoli (0,4% fat, 4% sugars and starches, 0% salt), a strawberry (0,3% fat, 8% sugars and starches, 0,1% salt) or a steak (20% fat, 0% sugars and starches, 0,1% salt). These natural ingredients all contain far less salt and far less sugar than the modern processed foods. By adding sugar, fat and salt in the perfect proportion, food companies ensure we literally get hooked on their products. While this is a great way to keep your customers coming back, it is also a great way to make them fat and unhealthy.

It is hard to argue with taste, and convincing yourself to eat bland food because it’s healthy is not a winning strategy. If you want to make healthy eating a habit, you have to make your healthy food delicious. Here are some natural ingredients you can easily add to your dishes to make them more palatable:

  • Butter or lard
  • Cream (if you tolerate lactose)
  • Olive oil
  • Mayonnaise (not based on seed oils)
  • Bacon
  • Garlic and onion
  • Hot peppers or chilli paste
  • Lemon zest
  • Fruit (bonus tip: try blending a diced apple into tomato sauce or soup)
  • Raisins
  • Apple cide vinegar
  • And don’t forget salt

If you consistently spice up your healthy meals, after a while you will find they taste even better than the carefully engineered industrial meals you used to eat.