Well, obviously everyone has a taste for food. We developed our taste for food at a very young age. Unfortunately, the taste that is etched in our taste buds is usually for foods that do not portend for longer, healthier life.
There are many foods we need to avoid or eat a lot less of. We know the drill. Avoid excess sugar, oil, alcohol, refined products, and highly processed foods. Junk food and snack food are bad for us.
But what do we replace all those foods we like with alternative foods that are good for us?
There is a new concept in the area of health called gamification. It involves enhancing one’s health by playing games. Games that make us think have been shown to delay or prevent the onset of degenerative diseases of the mind which include dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. We don’t know yet how thinking hard while playing works to our benefit.
There is also a corollary idea that playing any games helps us mentally. That would mean that playing the types of Vegas games at land based or online casinos that require no thought are as good for our mental health as playing blackjack or poker which require deep thought and concentration.
You also don’t have to play Grande Vegas online pokies for money. At an online casino, you can play for free for as long as you like.
Making Finding Food Alternatives a Game
We also know that our physical health is influenced by our mental health. There is a lot of evidence that laughing, which is the physical activity most associated with play, is very good for us.
All of this does not mean that we can stay healthy eating ice cream if we just play more. We need to find an alternative to ice cream and all the other foods we know we should eliminate or drastically reduce.
As we search for different foods we should treat the process as a kind of game. We might not like those green smoothies but if we see it as something that will make us laugh rather than as something that will make us angry, we will have a much better chance of learning to like a food that we didn’t like before.
Two stories illustrate the need to learn to like alternatives.
A woman who suffered greatly from inflammation in her knee found an amazing way to combat her joint pain. She gave up eating a long list of inflammatory foods. She needed to find foods that she could substitute for wheat, rye, and other gluten-rich grains as one of the categories on her “do not eat” list was gluten.
After a lifetime of hating buckwheat groats, she decided to “try to like kasha”. Lo and behold, she loves it now! Her children still hate it but she and her husband eat buckwheat groats regularly and she has no pain in her knees.
The second story is about a devoutly religious Muslim man who was studying English with a private tutor when the month of Ramadan came around. The man canceled his lessons for the entire month. He told his teacher that during Ramadan he is always angry. The teacher thought he had confused “angry” and “hungry”. He said, “no, I get angry because I can’t smoke or drink coffee”. Even though he could drink coffee and smoke every evening when that day’s fast ended, he didn’t have a much-needed alternative for smoking and coffee during the hours of the fast.
Green is the most common color of alternative foods. We all learned to dislike green foods as kids. Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, parsley, cilantro—for a lot of people this is a scary list.
In addition to eating green foods as themselves, we can blend them together as green smoothies. The key is to find things we can add to the smoothies to make them tastier without simply making them a kind of green soft drink.
We suggest adding unsweetened rice milk, almond milk, or soy milk and some ground flax seeds to give the smoothie a little nutty. You can add unsweetened almond butter or peanut butter if you don’t have inflammation in your joints.
The comedian, John Pinette, had a great time making fun of gluten-free bread. So don’t eat it! There are many alternative “flours” from which you can make delicious bread and have no gluten. You can add these flours to the soup as a thickener or to meatloaf as a stabilizer and you won’t have any of your guests say, “this needs gluten”.
Gluten-free soy sauce is just as good as the regular kind which usually has sugar, by the way.
Everyone loves a scoop or several. You can make great ice cream out of just frozen fruit and cocoa powder. All you need to add is milk or a non-dairy equivalent. You don’t need sugar.
We take the best espresso we can find, add water, and we have what Italians call “Americano”. We don’t add milk but if you have no problem with milk you can. We also don’t like rice or almond milk as a substitute for milk. For us, the key is to get the finest coffee.
This is the big bugaboo. There is hidden sugar in everything. Dilute fruit juice so you get less sugar in each glass. Avoid dried fruit as much as possible. Most artificial sweeteners have some sugar. We don’t use stevia either because we don’t want to have a sweet tooth when we drink coffee.
They say that dairy is bad for you. In the Middle East, they make thick, sour yogurt from goat’s milk. They call this “labneh”. As it turns out, goat’s milk is a lot more like human milk than cow’s milk.
Trying New Foods with a Smile on Your Face
In the long run, we all need at some time in our lives to change our eating habits. At a young age, our bodies are still strong enough to fight problematic foods. Still, we should begin now to develop a taste for the foods that will become the staples of our diet as we age and find that there are aches and pains and conditions and diseases that can be helped by a change in diet.