The health benefits of being a foodie

Food lovers rejoice, those adventurous eating habits could make you healthier than picky eaters.

Women were surveyed about types of foods they eat and those who were “adventurous eaters” tended to be healthier.

They had these traits in common:

  • Lower body mass
  • Called themselves healthy eaters
  • Worked out
  • Were concerned with healthy quality of their food
  • Had friends over for dinner more often
  • Cooked with the purpose of connecting to their cultural heritage

“These findings are important to dieters because they show that promoting adventurous eating may provide a way for people — especially women — to lose or maintain weight without feeling restricted by a strict diet,” said Brian Wansink, co-author of the study. “Instead of sticking with the same boring salad, start by adding something new. It could kick start a more novel, fun and healthy life of food adventure.”

Being a limited eater, or someone who does not eat a variety of foods, can be socially embarrassing and also nutritionally limiting, says Rosemary Mueller, a registered dietitian with Advocate Weight Management in Park Ridge, Ill.

For those looking to try new foods, Mueller suggests going to farmers’ markets, growing produce, visiting grocery stores of various cultures, reading and becoming interested in recipes, taking cooking classes, and observing more adventurous eaters.

“Another aspect of learning to be a varied eater is knowing that if you don’t particularly like the taste of something, you can change it,” she says. “For example, if cooked butternut squash is not really pleasing to your palate, roasting, mashing, using herbs/spices and then turning it into a sauce for a whole grain pasta may take on a whole new dimension of flavor.”

For those looking to add a wide variety of healthy food to their diets, she suggests:

  • Kale and other greens
  • Quinoa and other types of whole grains
  • Different types of salsa
  • Salad combinations made of different fruits, vegetables, seeds, protein and nuts
  • Nondairy alternatives such as soy, rice or almond milks, yogurts and cheeses
  • Stir fry or grill fruits and vegetables

“When it comes to weight management, remember it is about balance, variety and moderation  – the right portion eaten mindfully, savored and enjoyed,” says Mueller. “And, don’t’ forget to level all of that out with appropriate exercise.”

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