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Americans love variety

I’m not a movie goer and haven’t had time in years to read novels more than once a year.  So it took Sunday’s Parade magazine to enlighten me to the identity of Emma Watson, star of the Harry Potter movies.  Emma hails from the UK but decided to attend Brown University before continuing being a movie star. 

That’s her quote, her impression of Americans.  “Americans love variety; there’s so much choice, it’s overwhelming.”  She just found bagels and carbs out on blueberry, raisin and cinnamon bagels.  She says, “Luckily, I exercise a lot.”

Most Americans don’t.  Exercise, that is – drop the ‘a lot.’  Only 5% of Americans exercise on purpose.  But that’s not why I’m here today.

The variety in our diets has led, not single-handedly but led nonetheless, to the obesity and diabesity epidemics. We eat so many different tastes, textures, and spices, that we don’t get tired of food. 

Take the special dinner out – rolls with garlic-infused olive oil, appetizer salad with raspberry vinaigrette, entree touting chicken cordon bleu with cheesy couscous and a couple of haricot verts (green beans), followed with caramel apple cake with chocolate sauce and a strong cup of coffee oversweetened and creamed.  Yummy! 

The way our body is meant to work is our taste buds enjoy the taste of food intensely for the first few bites, then moderately as we continue eating until we feel full – when hormonal signals reach the brain to tell the mouth to stop chomping. All these different tastes on our plate lead to tastebuds that are continously excited.  We eat past our full signal.

If we limit the tastes, not the variety of food GROUPS, but variety of ticklers to the tongue, we’ll feel the fullness signal kick in at the right time and stop eating.  Take this example:  Salad with Italian dressing, baked chicken marinated in same dressing, green beans spritzed with lemon juice, and a baked apple with a dusting of brown sugar and cinnamon.  It is still scrumptious but limits the number of tastes your tongue has to deal with in a meal. 

Dietitians consistently encourage variety – meaning add more whole grains to your diet (try quinoa), veggies (Brussels’ sprouts, anyone?), and fruit (star fruit with your apple slices) as a way to ensure getting adequate nutrition – not TASTE.  Give it a try – let me know what happens.

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