While eating a beet salad yesterday, I learned the brain’s pleasure center seeks nutrient dense food and helps you to like these foods more!
I confess that I don’t like the taste of beets …. yet.
Because I know the root and the leaves are nutritious and good for me and help ward off disease, I’m ordering them whole and raw in salads and as side dishes now and then. (they are high in carbs* and used to produce sugar when broken down) I’m hoping to find them tastier than medicine through more exposure over time.
The texture is fine but the color is a little off-putting to me as well. (I apologize to any readers who love beets.) Normally I love pecans, but doused in the same crimson color of beet juice I didn’t find them nearly as alluring to any of my senses unfortunately.
So I asked the waiter if there was something I could add to make the beets taste better. It turned out he was a food science major and he told me two amazing things:
1. Vinegar or citrus juice would do the trick and he brought out balsamic vinegar and lemon wedges. Both worked beautifully and provided different tastes.
2. When you first begin eating a nutritious food you don’t like your brain doesn’t quite know what to do with it, the conflicting information is what I think he meant. After eating it a number of times, *** and here’s the gem*** if the brain recognizes that it’s nutrient dense, the pleasure center in your brain will be activated. Then you’ll eat it again and you’ll come to like it and want more of it, he said.
A nutrient dense food gives you the most nutrients for the fewest amount of calories. Your brain wants you to eat nutrient dense foods and get what you need to be healthy, keeping in mind that food can be medicine to your body. The brain uses 25% of the nutrition available throughout your entire body which is much more than any other organ requires. Because it’s so smart, not really, but to help you survive it stimulates the sense of pleasure in you in order to build the connection and invite repetition of this food choice.
This natural process is now used as a trick by some food manufacturers today to lure you into eating their “junk”, non-food food, by using artificial ingredients to hook your pleasure center into craving it. Fake but reliable brain activating scents, colors and tastes are added to improve the look and flavor.
Armed with this new information from the waiter at Follow Your Heart, I will eat beets more often knowing that eventually I won’t need to add the vinegar or lemon to hide the taste; I’ll let my pleasure center will take over.
What food have you been avoiding because of the taste but know it’s good for you? We each have our weird food :) I’d love to hear in the comments below.
- * 1 cup of beet root has 59 calories, 9 g sugar, 13 g carbs, and 3.8 g fiber