03 July 2011

Low-fat, Low-Flavor, or Low-Quality?

At a meeting downtown, my colleagues and I took advantage of the new restaurants away from the office and ate lunch out. We ended up going to seemingly squeaky clean and shiny health-food joint. It turned out to be not very tasty at all. Everything we ate was simply bland.

As we diligently ate our already purchased lunches, I commented that some people think that healthy food is equivalent to low-fat food, which is not always the case. Moreover, even if the food is “low-fat” it can still be poor quality, which takes away from the healthy nutrients of the food. And not to mention, leaves the consumer completely unsatisfied.

I think, often, good food is confused between low-fat and extra-processed food with real, whole, and healthy food. Selecting the option of “sugar-free,” for example is not necessarily better to eat than the sugar. Do you ever read list of ingredients on the package? The ingredients that are listed instead of sugar are chemically unknown to the average consumer (myself included). Or the fat-free food like butter, that naturally has fat, which is not always a bad thing either—Just too much is bad!!

But why are we so scared of sugar anyway? Or foods like butter and cream for that matter? We have this instinct to run far from the whole foods and grab the low-fat, low-sugar option, without even thinking it through. Perhaps real butter is actually better than the “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” alternative, (Okay, if it is not butter, what the hell is it?) Furthermore, no matter what they say—the alternative option does not taste the same as the real deal.

To exemplify, a couple of friends and I made dinner one night. We did spring for the Whole Foods run before hand. However, as much as I think the overpriced options are, well, over priced, it was worth it. The foods we bought were whole (small w) without some characteristic removed and others added. The result? —Deliciousness. I couldn’t help think that it wasn’t just our amazing cooking skills (we are good, but not that incredible!) but rather, it was the due to the quality of the food. We didn’t shy from the extra “calories” and the result was much more satisfying.

At the end of the day, the choice is still up to the individual consumer—how do you want to eat? I think, in general, we would all like to be healthy and enjoy our meals. So, it is important to keep in mind what that means for you personally. And, you know, maybe one will prefer the flavors of low-fat over the full-fat options, and, hey, go for it! I simply hope that we do not begin to sacrifice our enjoyment of food for going for the “healthy” choice, without understanding what that actually signifies.