That’s what I hear chefs saying all the time, as they pay careful attention to the presentation of food at their restaurants.
Now there’s research to back it up, according to a NYT oped piece today by Harriet Brown. In a nutshell, our bodies absorb more nutrients from food that we find appetizing than from food we think is yucky.
The researchers concluded that food that's unfamiliar (Thai food to Swedish women) or unappetizing (mush rather than solid food) winds up being less nutritious than food that looks, smells and tastes good to you. The explanation can be found in the digestive process itself, in the relationship between the "second brain" — the gut — and the brain in your head.
Even on a sometimes counter-intuitive diet like the dialysis regimen, you can find recipes that are full of big flavors and beautiful color, but are still within the guidelines. I’ve been using a lot of Food Network recipes, especially Rachael Ray’s … and we have been eating very well.
Last night’s dinner is a good example. Pork chops with sliced sweet and hot peppers, accompanied by a romaine salad with a super-simple dressing made with roasted red peppers, garlic and balsamic vinegar. The great thing is that I can control the ingredients and the amount of salt. Plus, the colors of the peppers and the dressing were a delight to the eyes. Such things are a gift from God, one of the common graces that we all enjoy.
Update: Commenter Marie St. Pierre raises some valid points. People with lower incomes tend to have less healthy eating habits. This is true in the United States, as well as in France. But why? It used to be that it was less expensive to eat at home than to eat out -- even for fast food. Convenience foods in the store are notoriously more expensive than fresh --- not to mention that they're packed with salt and preservatives. Is it cheaper now to eat out than to eat in? And do unhealthy eating habits develop because income decreases -- or because time to cook and enjoy a meal decreases? Are people eating on the run more because they have to work two jobs? Any thoughts?
We try to avoid fast food in our house, but I didn't mean for this post to give the impression that I always prepare meals at home. With dialysis three nights a week, I cook dinner at home on Wednesday and Sunday. I pack meals from home for my lunches and for dinners at dialysis. Often it is a simple deli turkey sandwich with sides like canned peaches or applesauce, carrot and celery sticks, cookies (sometimes homemade.) We have dinner out often -- regularly Monday dinner, Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and often Sunday lunch. If it weren't for the goofball constraints of the dialysis diet, I'd probably not "brown bag" so many meals.