When a client comes in reporting that they veered from their nutrition plan, my first question is generally “was it worth it?” You see, to me there’s a difference between a treat and a cheat. Treats are worth it. The best pizza Chicago has to offer, your grandmother’s famous holiday dessert, the Bi-rite ice cream I had on my birthday are all treats. Treats are savored and special. I wish I could take credit for this concept but it’s not mine. While I have no recollection of my mother dieting when I was growing up (ironic maybe when you think of my profession) she certainly had a rule system. When she tasted something ordinary she would often remark “that’s not worth it” and she’d immediately put her fork down. This was a woman who loved wine and cheese and bread so none of this was restrictive. I’ve always liked this mentality as it shifts the focus of food from calories and food groups back to taste.
Sadly, much of our eating is governed by factors other than taste and sometimes taste doesn’t even come into play. The LA Times reported on a recent study conducted on moviegoers. Participants were given either fresh or week-old stale popcorn. Results showed people consumed the same amount of popcorn they usually do at movies regardless of freshness (or taste). Those who weren’t regular popcorn eaters were somewhat less likely to consume the stale stuff. In a meeting room, people did eat less of the stale popcorn than they did in the dark theatre.
While I’d like to think most of us don’t regularly eat stale food, habits can be very powerful. How many times have you gone to lunch at 12:30 simply because you always do? I’ve talked about dessert and it’s very common to have a sweet after dinner purely out of habit. Habits also come into play with portions. Oftentimes we finish what’s on our plate or what we cook without regard for when we’re sated or if it really tastes good.
I’m asking you to jettison those old tendencies and take a page out of Elli’s playbook (funny I feel no need to respect my mother’s privacy). Embrace your inner food snob and to pay attention to how your food tastes. Ask yourself if its worth it and if not stop. You can use #TIDEI (tweet it don’t eat it) @Foodtrainers and we’ll give you a virtual gold star. Another thing we should glean from the study is that only things that are “worth it” should be done in the dark. When it comes to eating, the brighter the lights the better.
When do you find yourself eating sub par food? When you commit a cooking flop do you eat it anyway? Any treats you want to report?
*If you’re now craving freshly popped popcorn, tune in Friday for some Pop Secrets.