Do You Think That Healthy Food Tastes Bad?

A new study looked at the link between how we perceive food’s healthfulness and its taste, and the results reveal an important piece of the obesity epidemic.

More specifically, participants in the study seemed to think that unhealthy food always tastes better. Whether participants were healthy eaters or unhealthy eaters outside of this study, they assumed that the unhealthier options were going to taste better. They call it the “Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition” or UTI for short. Not to be confused with urinary tract infection.

Researchers offered the participants a variety of yogurts. As you probably know, yogurt can vary wildly in the amount of fat and added sugars, so they were able to easily control how healthy the offering was. Even the healthy eaters didn’t tend to choose the healthiest options on offer. And the ones who chose the least healthy options were the participants with the unhealthiest eating habits overall.

That might not seem surprising, but it gives some good insight into how we make our food choices and how policymakers and food companies can help us choose healthier food.

The study authors concluded that, “Policy planners must instead find ways to make healthy foods more appealing, by improving the actual taste as well as the packaging and marketing, and by investing in social campaigns which work on consumer’s emotions and encourage a sense that healthy eating is “cool” and prestigious. Overall, a holistic approach is urgently needed in which food companies, consumers, and policy makers, instead of working against one another, manage to find mutually beneficial strategies to combat the world’s alarming obesity epidemic.”

Basically, the authors are saying that we need to do two things to get people to make better food choices:

1. We need to make healthy food seem “cool.”

2. We need to make healthy food taste better.

I take some issue with the idea that healthy food doesn’t taste good. I consider myself a pretty healthy eater for the most part, and there are tons of healthy foods that taste just as good as their unhealthy counterparts. Of course there’s healthy food that tastes terrible. There is unhealthy food that tastes terrible too. Eating healthy food is all about learning how to choose things that appeal to your tastes.

One element that the study authors leave out is educating consumers on how to cook healthy food that tastes good. They talk about marketing and packaging, which usually means processed foods or restaurant foods. There are lots of unhealthy foods already masquerading as health food. If we want to be truly healthier, we need to stop relying on food companies to tell us what’s good for us.

Do you think that healthy food tastes bad?

There is a lot of good research on the benefits of cooking at home. It’s better for our health and for our wallets. Try some of these healthy recipes that also happen to be incredibly tasty!

I’d love to hear from you, too! Do you have a favorite, healthy, home-cooked recipe? Tell us about it in the comments!

87 comments

Jayasri Amma
Jayasri Amma3 years ago

Thank you!

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JACarlton Author
jill c3 years ago

unhealthy foods have had their "sweetness" factor concentrated then had just the right amount of salt added to ensure that the foods' flavor sets off all of the right "calorie density" sensors we have so we're compelled to choose foods that are calorie dense even ifthey're not nutritionally dense.

The good news is that tastebuds can be "cleansed" and returned to "normal" so that one can enjoy the delicious natural taste of foods rather than the concentrated contrivances that pass for food in today's world.

though there are times I still crave the bag of doritos or a donut, more often than not, once I bite into either of them, I'm disgusted by the taste. The desire to experience the taste, (for me), comes from childhood memories, though I find, as an adult, that I am frequently disappointed since things don't taste the same as they did when I was a kid.

So, these days, I opt for street corn over doritos most of the time. As for donuts, I do still enjoy a good custard filled, but not often, and not all at once.

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Stardust Noel
Past Member 3 years ago

Not what I cook, it tastes delicious.

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Brae F.
Brae F3 years ago

I LOVE healthy food! In fact I crave it...broccoli, cauliflower, avocado and citrus fruit are my favourites!!! My IBS doesn't really let me have them that often but when I can have them, I relish every bit of it!

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Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

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Carla van der Meer

Persomally. I've neverfounf healthy food to taste bad. As a chef, it is simple, and sometimes challenging, but always delicious. I hate to admit, but I have to lie to my hunny as he is convinced if it is good for you, it must taste bad.

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Elaine Bauer
Elaine Bauer3 years ago

In order to stay healthy, I eat healthFUL foods, and find them absolutely delicious. As to the health of the foods I choose; I guess they're OK, or they'd be spoiled in some way, and not so tasty.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

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Tanya W.
Tanya W3 years ago

Nice post

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Tanya W.
Tanya W3 years ago

Noted thanks

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