The Role Nutritious Food Plays in Weight Control

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I have found in my work with weight-loss clients that teaching just the simple act of becoming more present with each meal by slowing down, taking a breath before lifting each forkful to the mouth, and truly tasting, savoring, and enjoying every bite of food, can bring about 2-3 pounds of weight loss in just one week.

Why is this?

There are at least two reasons. When the eater slows down enough to allow the body to recognize what is being put into her mouth, she eats less food because the stomach and the brain have time to communicate with each other, sending the appropriate hormonal signals back and forth indicating that enough food has been consumed. The second reason is simple yet profound. She recognizes if the food she putting into her mouth tastes good.

Why is taste so important? It’s actually very basic. Tasty food has all the right nutrients to satiate the body, and thus the appetite. Truly nutritious food, which is high in vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants and the other components that are necessary to sustain all our basic body functions, will taste sweet, and will satisfy hunger. Non-nutritious food, the type that has been so highly processed that it contains few nutrients, and has to have sugar, salt, fat and/or MSG added to make it tasty again, will only cause cravings for more, as the body, in its innate wisdom, will sense that its nutritional needs have not been met, and will ask for more food, in the hopes that perhaps the next bite has that Vitamin D, or calcium or Vitamin C it so desperately needs.

Another way of looking at this concept is that nutritious food will taste good when eaten slowly and non-nutritious food will not. A serving of French fries tastes delicious right out of the fryer, but if you let them sit for 5 minutes as you eat those fries slowly, you’ll realize all the taste comes from the hot oil and the salt. The actual processed potato product, once it has cooled down, has no taste. Think now of a fresh farmers market peach, grown locally, picked at peak ripeness, and delivered to the market perhaps the day it was harvested. This peach is a whole, unprocessed, fresh food – full of nutrients, and thus is incredibly satisfying to the taste buds when consumed.

What too few in today’s day and age recognize is that the current chronic illnesses our health-care system is overwhelmed with, including overweight and obesity, are due in a large part to nutritional deficiencies. And our bodies are naturally hard-wired to recognize this, and to crave the real nourishing foods. They’ve just become confused by all the additives that are found in today’s modern convenience foods.

The next time you sit down to a meal, eat it slowly, savor each bite, and note what has real taste and what does not. I bet you’ll find, more often than not, that the truly tasty food is less processed. Once you start making food choices based on taste, the good news is two-fold. One, you will enjoy your food more. Two, you will eat less because your body will be happily satisfied with the nutrition it is getting in what you are eating. Give it a try. You too can start to lose weight with just the simple act of slowing down enough to become aware of what you are putting in your mouth at each meal.

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    Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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September 2009
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