The best way to improve one’s diet isn’t to use discipline to control one’s cravings, it’s more effective to improve one’s palate and gradually adjust one’s sense of correct portions.
One of the reasons why 92% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by Valentine’s Day is due to overreliance on discipline to build new habits. When stress hits, discipline goes, comfort food returns. Easier to train one’s palate to need less sugar and less salt, and to reduce portion.
Training the Palate
A bite of bacon, followed by a bite of sausage.
(clear palate with water and ginger)
A bite of unsalted sauteed zucchini, followed by a bite of sausage (same as above).
Which sausage tastes better?
If you eat a piece of bacon and then a piece of sausage, you’ll end up eating more sausage than if you had preceded bite of sausage with bite of zucchini (which ends with slightly bitter note). Your mind is expecting is certain amount of pleasure from the sausage and if it doesn’t get it, it’ll ask for more of it. Or you’ll be tempted to add more salt, maybe gravy. This is why I ask you to manage carefully your holiday potluck meals, to make sure there are proper contrasts. You guys tell me to chill out, that it’s just one day. No, it is not because people’s palates are getting fucked up by ridiculous meals. Meaning people are going to be eating more until they try to correct their palate.
Bite of glazed donut, followed by coffee, cream no sugar.
Bite of glazed donut, followed by Mountain Dew
Which donut tastes better, assuming same donut?
The person who washes donut with Mountain Dew is going to need more and more sugar to attain feeling he craves.
Eating well is about contrasts and delay of gratification. This is true of good music, literature, film, sex, etc., all about contrasts and delay of gratification, acceptance of frustration and pain. Train taste in all areas of art and life to develop a more sophisticated palate and to enjoy eating more. The harder one works for something, the more enjoyable it is.
We can better develop ability to delay gratification by NOT giving kids (and adults) what they want until they accomplish something new; by teaching kids to embrace frustration and pain instead off protecting them from such emotions. If they don’t learn how to work through such feelings, they’ll be trapped in fantasy or break down when reality bites hard. The source of binge eating isn’t so much desire for food, it’s need for escape from the pressures of life. Eating is a psychological act. Put simply, we need to stop coddling each other if we’re going to beat this obesity epidemic.
Some American restaurants have reduced portions and are training its customers to recognize more appropriate portions. So we’re moving in the right direction. But typical American portions are still excessive and restaurants are to blame because they help define what’s normative to consumers. Restaurants train consumers to eat in a certain way.
Here’s a money saving method to reduce portions (nothing new, this method can be found in magazines). At home, salad plates should be used as entree plates. At most restaurants, two should share one entree. Or two share four appetizers. That should be enough for 80 percent of the population.
Eating should be, overall, a pleasurable experience. That’s why I tell New Year’s resolution customers to pick something they think they’ll like, not what they think they ought to have. I’ve noticed that those who eat only things they don’t enjoy break their resolutions, while those who gradually change their palates remain customers throughout the year. Don’t deny yourself, enjoy your food. Happy New Year!