Following a diabetic diet full of healthy and nourishing foods may seem difficult. Recent research has pinpointed one reason why this is the case. A study at Kiel University in Germany found people chose from a variety of yogurts based on taste, not on the nutritional information researchers gave them. Even healthy eaters were likely to cite taste as the most important determining factor in what they ate, the study found.
"Despite a recent trend toward healthy eating behaviors, many consumers still tend to overconsume unhealthy foods because of two facts that work in combination," study authors Robert Mai and Stefan Hoffmann wrote in a release. "Unhealthy is widely associated with being tasty, and taste is the main driver of food decisions. There is little research on the conflict between healthiness and tastiness."
The authors suggested policymakers and food companies collaborate to make healthy eating seem more enticing - through marketing, packaging, social efforts and actually improving the taste of healthy foods. They believe an effort of this kind could help to stem the global obesity epidemic.
What can you do?
While a worldwide effort to make healthy food delicious and more enticing is a great idea, you may be wondering how to make healthy eating appealing for yourself. It's vital that you eat in a healthy way as part of your diabetes care plan, after all, and that necessity won't wait for nutritious eating to undergo a renaissance. Your diabetic diet, whether you it make yourself or get a meal plan from your dietitian, requires you to make good choices. But this research suggests that making decisions based on health rather than taste is very hard for most people, so it may be challenging for you. Here are a few ideas to help you along:
• Cook healthy food that tastes good to you. While it seems obvious, if you are strongly opposed to healthy foods, it may be that you just haven't found any that you like. There's no need to live on kale, after all - a healthy, balanced diet can have many components. You should also cook at home as much as you can so you can experiment and fine-tune your meals to your own personal tastes.
• Don't cut out treats entirely. If you never eat anything unhealthy again, you're going to feel deprived. Indeed, this makes it more likely that you'll slip up and overindulge. Find diabetic-friendly desserts and snacks that can satisfy your cravings and eat them in moderation. This will keep you on track, and you won't feel like you have to give up an entire category of food to be healthy.
• Give yourself time to enjoy healthy food. If you haven't been a healthy eater before, the way food tastes when it's not loaded with extra sugars, fats and salt won't be familiar to you. It does take time for your palate to adjust, so be patient with yourself. What tastes boring today might just be your favorite dish a few months down the road.