Food: Friend or Foe

A dapper dressing, bow-tied mentor of mine, Mick, gave me a heads up on a Wall Street Journal article I missed, “A War on Good Taste”.  Published the 31st of December, it was a good reflection of what 2010 did to food and I can see 2011 is coming at us in pretty much the same vein.

Author Eric Felten points out that we’ve deified all things low fat, low calorie, and likely low taste.  On the flip side, any cookbook (or chef) with an ounce of fat, we’ve demonized. Good. Bad. Black. White. Poisonous. It drives us dietitians crazy. There are no single foods that make or break a healthy diet. There are some foods we should consume more often and some less often; there are some cooking methods that we should employ routinely and others we should limit. How easy is that?

The more we legislate, the more restrict, the more we pull on that elastic band of our inborn appetite, the more it flies in the opposite direction. Our band loses control and loses its shape. Listen to your body and you’ll know when you’re hungry and you’ll know when you’re satisfied.

A terrific study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, “When Healthy Food Makes You Hungry” in October 2010 concluded that as we impose healthy food on individuals, their appetites increase. Putting external controls on eating (Mayor Bloomberg and Mrs. O. are you listening?), the natural result is actually to increase consumption.

Make friends with your food, it should be one of life’s pleasures. Trust yourself. Trust your appetite to,
Be well,

Permanent link to this article: http://marciacrawford.net/archives/food-friend-or-foe


  1. Ken says:

    I read the first page and abstract from the study referenced. Not a lot of information here. Seems to me the hypothesis is counter intuitive. The study seems to assume that eating in this healthy choice cafeteria will be followed by eating where choices are unlimited. What if all eating environments (i.e., school and home) offer more healthy choices? Does this study use adult or child subjects? Would they be the same? If this is true, wouldn't it follow that restricting smoking (Thank you Dr. Crawford) would make smokers smoke more? I think we see the opposite. Sounds like a study the tobacco companies would love to use. Or, by breathing clean fresh air, smokers are subconsciously compelled to smoke more. I am not sure I buy this. I tend to be happy with carrots and brussel sprouts (though not as a child – reference last blog post) when french fries are not allowed in the door. Do we set a plate of warm fries within the reach of every child to strengthen their resolve to eat well? Why do those of other cultures begin to gain weight when exposed to our "western" diet? Many questions. Ken

  2. Marcia Crawford says:

    Ken –
    I think the issue is CHOICE. When someone tells us we need to eat a low fat muffin, for example, psychologically, it's not very satisfying. If we, on the other hand, select that low fat muffin of our own volition, we feel virtuous and probably satisfied. Feeling virtuous because of what you ate, is certainly worthy of another Minute, but the difference in psychological satiety is: I chose to eat a healthy food vs someone told me I have to eat a healthy food. How can we encourage more people to select healthy foods on their own, is a great question. Physiological vs psychological satiety is a worthy study subject. Prescriptive eating is rarely successful long term so having people tell us what we can and cannot eat will not be effective, in my opinion. The preference for French fries (or fatty foods in general) reflects some genetic survival DNA that told us, eat fat (feast) because we can store it and live through the next famine. Our genetics and our food supply in the US are at odds. We've come full circle in that we have so many fatty food choices, we eat too much and become fat ourselves…, Marcia

  3. Ken says:

    Still, all one needs to do is to go to one of our public school cafeterias, look at the consistently poor choices kids make, take note of the the disturbing number of overweight kids. Choice is a problem. Kids are very often poorly served by too many choices. The other dynamic one might notice in the typical cafeteria is the correlation between socioeconomic status and kids' weight. That is not a genetic issue. Neither is it a genetic issue when all of our foreign exchange students gain unusual weight almost immediately after their arrival. And, I get no love on the smoking point? I thought that was pretty good. Ken 🙂

Leave a Reply