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Do You Think That Healthy Food Tastes Bad?

A new study looked at the link between how we perceive food’s healthfulness and its taste, and the results reveal an important piece of the obesity epidemic.

More specifically, participants in the study seemed to think that unhealthy food always tastes better. Whether participants were healthy eaters or unhealthy eaters outside of this study, they assumed that the unhealthier options were going to taste better. They call it the “Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition” or UTI for short. Not to be confused with urinary tract infection.

Researchers offered the participants a variety of yogurts. As you probably know, yogurt can vary wildly in the amount of fat and added sugars, so they were able to easily control how healthy the offering was. Even the healthy eaters didn’t tend to choose the healthiest options on offer. And the ones who chose the least healthy options were the participants with the unhealthiest eating habits overall.

That might not seem surprising, but it gives some good insight into how we make our food choices and how policymakers and food companies can help us choose healthier food.

The study authors concluded that, “Policy planners must instead find ways to make healthy foods more appealing, by improving the actual taste as well as the packaging and marketing, and by investing in social campaigns which work on consumer’s emotions and encourage a sense that healthy eating is “cool” and prestigious. Overall, a holistic approach is urgently needed in which food companies, consumers, and policy makers, instead of working against one another, manage to find mutually beneficial strategies to combat the world’s alarming obesity epidemic.”

Basically, the authors are saying that we need to do two things to get people to make better food choices:

1. We need to make healthy food seem “cool.”

2. We need to make healthy food taste better.

I take some issue with the idea that healthy food doesn’t taste good. I consider myself a pretty healthy eater for the most part, and there are tons of healthy foods that taste just as good as their unhealthy counterparts. Of course there’s healthy food that tastes terrible. There is unhealthy food that tastes terrible too. Eating healthy food is all about learning how to choose things that appeal to your tastes.

One element that the study authors leave out is educating consumers on how to cook healthy food that tastes good. They talk about marketing and packaging, which usually means processed foods or restaurant foods. There are lots of unhealthy foods already masquerading as health food. If we want to be truly healthier, we need to stop relying on food companies to tell us what’s good for us.

Do you think that healthy food tastes bad?

There is a lot of good research on the benefits of cooking at home. It’s better for our health and for our wallets. Try some of these healthy recipes that also happen to be incredibly tasty!

I’d love to hear from you, too! Do you have a favorite, healthy, home-cooked recipe? Tell us about it in the comments!

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