Eating a variety of food doesn’t automatically make your diet healthy
We have been learning about eating healthy since the second or third grade. The reason why we should eat healthy is to avoid diseases related to obesity, such as certain types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Experts around the world usually recommend a variety of food to make people live a healthy life.
The reason why a variety of food must be consumed is because of their nutritional values. It helps to reduce the risk of malnutrition as we are consuming various products. But the term “variety” can get confusing and what the nutritionists mean by that is different from what we think.
The right way to eat
Variety doesn’t simple mean different types of food. It can also mean having multiple courses from various food groups that should be eaten at a certain time.
In a recent study conducted in the UK, the researchers wanted to know how the UK citizens defined variety. For that, they were asked to comment on photographs of different food items during an online survey. They were shown pictures of supermarket aisles, food with different flavours, colours and textures, such as salads or pizzas with different toppings.
As expected, the majority defined variety by eating food from different groups. The results suggested that while eating a healthy diet, people have a higher chance of giving less importance on variety within meals. While trying to achieve balance, it doesn’t matter if they had more or less of a particular food group, as long as they made up for it in the next meal.
This means they eat more of their preferred food, and less of the others. So what we have been thinking of as variety is often just “sensory specific satiety” and not really a balanced diet.