Not all of the same food is created equal.
One of man’s basic needs is food. It is human to desire and eat different kinds of foods. As we consume food, we naturally assess how it tastes and the sensory attributes that come with the experience. But why should we rate our food?
Imagine this example. You start feeling you’ve had enough to eat. Did you know that feeling is specific to a particular food that you have consumed already? That’s called satiety. Your brain signals your body that you’re full and you feel satisfied with the food.
Satiation means that if you continue eating the same food even after feeling satisfied, the rate of pleasantness declines. It’s like losing your appetite for that specific food.
Interestingly, in some cases, eating another type of food will be appealing. How is that so when you feel full already, right?
In this article, let’s explore why we should rate our food and how food quality is important to understand its effect on our health and nutrition.
Importance of food quality
Talking about nutrition and diet is a staple to meal planning.
Eating healthy takes a tremendous amount of work, from the never-ending counting of calories, macros, and carbohydrates to avoiding particular food. But, these are not the only factors that make up a healthy eating habit – the quality of your food is also crucial!
If you’re on a diet, food quality would be responsible for the results you want to achieve. Thus, eating clean would require you to look at two things – calories and nutrients.
Calories are the most significant factor that tells your performance and body composition. They comprise everything we eat and drink and give us the energy we need in our daily lives. Our macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat determine the number of calories we take per gram, and they would make up our overall caloric intake.
Nutrients or the nutrient density of your food would account for the beneficial micronutrients that you give your body through vitamins and minerals. Choosing nutrient-dense food is a wise decision, for it is typically low in calories but high in nutrients.
What is food quality?
When we talk about food quality, we refer to the sum of its properties. These characteristics are:
- Ethical and sustainable production
- Nutritional content
Over time, there have been contradictions about food quality, and these come from producers and traders who have self-serving interests in the general consumers and market.
Many manufacturers define quality only in the way that would benefit them. We have no objective references to use, so that descriptors may be based on biases and intentions. Thus, in terms of industrial food processing, food quality may mean:
With that said, it is true that not all of the same food is created equal. As consumers, we have to be careful in marketing strategies that we see in advertisements, food labels, and infomercials. Sometimes, there are processed foods that show they are “all natural” or “healthy” but aren’t in reality.
Take a look at the nutritional facts in the food packaging every time you go to the grocery. Start evaluating for yourself whether the food that you’re about to buy actually contains the macros and calories that you need.
You will notice that most processed foods have ingredients that are hard to pronounce but only typically contain just salts, sugars, fats, and flavoring. Unlike fresh and wholesome foods, they don’t have natural sources of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.
For instance, there’s nothing better than fresh, locally-produced, real tomatoes compared to canned and cheaper tomatoes from convenience stores. Even if sometimes the fresh and healthier options are more expensive, they’re still the better choice because you don’t have to keep buying too much only to still leave you hungry.
How do you rate your food?
In attaining optimal health and weight, the quality of the food we eat matters. Many dietary guidelines point out that while calories are vital, the kind we choose would impact our goals for our bodies.
So, before you start counting calories, ask yourself, “what am I eating?”
Is it wise to focus on caloric value? Overeating is indeed a virtue we should observe for health measures, but it’s only one of the many. Researches suggest that quality should be the determining factor in selecting what to eat and avoid maintaining a particular physique.
High-quality foods are unrefined, almost non-processed food, including fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and healthy sources of protein and fats. Harvard has an example on their Healthy Eating Plate, which is a perfect guide to a healthy, balanced meal.
Low-quality foods, on the other hand, are the heavily processed foods that are often as follows: refined white grains, sugary beverages, fried food, and also those that are high in saturated and trans fats that we usually eat in fast foods.
Instead of counting calories, count quality.
Does portion size affect food intake?
Oftentimes, food presentation plays a huge role in the way we appreciate food. It also affects our energy intake and how much we consume them.
For example, when you see sandwiches in bite-size pieces, do you gravitate towards them more than when you see burgers in bigger sandwiches?
In the long-term, sometimes you will notice that you tend to eat more when your meals are in smaller servings. Or, do you find that your body knows more when to stop when you have regular-sized portions like usual?
Palatability is directly correlated to the pleasure you experience when consuming a specific food. It is contingent upon your senses of taste, texture, smell, and appearance. For instance, sweets, sugary and fatty foods are generally appealing to many people.
Food in portions or in regular single servings provide nourishment, no doubt, but our behavior in choosing the food we eat is often because of the pleasure value it provides.
More on perceptions of food
When you drink coffee from a paper cup, it doesn’t feel the same when you drink the same coffee from your favorite mug at home. You also tend to drink more when you drink from a Starbucks cup, don’t you?
Scientists observed that perceptions of food can affect food intake. Ever wonder how you might feel if you drink coffee from a military cup instead?
We rate food as good because of our perception. One of which is the sensory aspects. Taste is a major contributor but also the texture and appearance of food.
These hedonic responses – meaning, we consider a particular food with pleasant sensations – affect our relationship with food. Consider the colors and variety of the types of food to get the macronutrients that your body needs.
Quality vs. Quantity – indicators in rating food
Meal variety can increase energy and food intake. This is why it’s crucial to have a balanced diet. You can still gain weight while eating high-quality food because of incorrect quantities at the end of the day. Hence, the two should co-exist, and you should look into both sides.
Repeatedly eating the same kinds of food will lose their palatability. Thus, the food you eat too often tastes bland, and you lose the desire to eat it again, at least for a considerable amount of time. So, find a way to make your meals exciting. Here at Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute, we share exciting plans to make your diet sustainable.
There’s still an ongoing debate as to whether quality is more important than quantity. Different studies support different claims, but one thing is for sure – when we eat higher quality food, we eat less because we are already full and satisfied.
To get your body in the most optimal state, it’s essential that you eat a nutrient-rich diet to boost your immune system. If you are not exercising currently, it’s also good to develop healthy habits to improve your relationship with food and your body.