Christmas is a time to try new food. Stores display new items on their shelves while people don’t care much when they go beyond their budget at this time of the year.
One of the reasons that I’m always seeking new food is because I want to eat healthily. And over the years, I’ve finally come to grasp the philosophy and the psychology of a healthy diet: It is not really about self discipline, self denial, or self restraint, but rather it is about constantly opening your eyes for new stuff to make the healthy diet less boring.
When I first started the healthy diet regime, I thought it’s all about self discipline. Needless to say, the constant vigilance drove me so mad that I had to give up within a month or so. After a period of recuperation, usually two or three months, I would embark on another round of healthy diet, only to see it being abandoned several weeks later. My friends laughed at me heartily, especially when we ate dinner at a restaurant or at a dinner party. They thought me ridiculous and I thought myself ridiculous too. I seemed to be against food that tastes good, and against the very enjoyment of meals. I seemed to live in a constant fear of death or illness. “You are going to live up to 200 years old if you eat so healthily. What’s the point of living that long when all your friends are dead?” They often taunted me.
After years of trials and errors, something finally clicked. I didn’t have the exact moment of epiphany when the revelation just dawned on me. I didn’t. It’s rather a gradual process of learning a bit here and there every day, gathering a bit of life lesson through each failure. Eating healthy food has to have its own goal, own fun, and own game. It is not about against tasty food or against the normal desire for tasty food.
And the game of my healthy diet is like this: constantly searching for new healthy options at stores, cooking with new ingredients. Also new sauces are important too. A bland dish can be made delicious instantly with a good sauce.
Basically what I am saying is that healthy eating is less about the stomach and more about the brain. The brain feels frustrated when it has to constantly send signals to quench one’s appetite for food. The brain doesn’t want to exist in such a vicious authoritarian cycle. We have to direct the brain’s attention to something else–curiosity for something new, improvement of an old dish, experiment with a new combination. The brain is satisfied when it finds that eating healthy food is not about denying one’s desire, but rather it’s about having fun and exploring.
I’ve told my thought to my friend L but she is not quite convinced. She thinks the stomach always desires unhealthy food no matter what. It’s human nature. She also thinks that I am just getting more used to eating healthy food now and eating habits don’t have much to do with the brain. She does have a point. She’s full of common sense by the way and possesses a balanced serenity that I can never achieve.
I’ve tried the following last weekend, and this weekend I am going to go out there to hunt for more.
I’ve seen Hawaiian Style Chicken from Aldi store for a long time, but I’ve never bought it. However I decided to try it last weekend and it is delicious. It has big pineapple chunks in it. I like pineapple, especially pineapple cooking together with meat–Hawaiian pizza with pineapple chunks is my favorite. I also got Aldi’s Sea Salt Caramel hummus. I usually don’t buy it due to its extra sugar, but for the holiday, I am willing to make an exception.
I also tried the new “Meatless Breakfast Patties” and the frozen “Mushroom Medley” from Trader Joe’s. They are the best from Trader Joe’s so far. When I was picking up two boxes of the breakfast patties, a lady next to me was trying to do the same thing and she said to me, “Finally, they’ve made a meatless product that tastes like real food.” That’s so true. For years and years, I tried meatless product, only to be disappointed each time. The taste was off and none of them was better than the plain old tofu that I could pan fry with added sauce. Now, first time ever, they come up with a meatless with a real food taste. I have to point out that I only try meatless product with less than 6% fat content. I guess those with higher fat percentage can be rather tasty but they are out of my food range.