Starting a New Year diet is like standing up to a bully. Everyone says they’re going to do it, even though 90% of us surrender at the first sign of a struggle. Try as we might, the simple fact is that eating clean is seriously hard. It’s alright for fanatical vegans and gym goers - their fervour about food and clean living gives them an edge when it comes to staying on the straight and narrow. For the rest of us, the mere memory of a gooey, oily slice of pepperoni pizza is enough to send us screaming into the street, cursing the name of salad.
Nonetheless, despite the long sad history of endless failures and self esteem-crushing setbacks, when January rolls around we all ready ourselves for another bite at the flavourless cherry. This year is no exception. Already, newspapers are reporting that more of us than ever before are preparing for months of hardship as we insist on making ourselves miserable in the name of looking good. But, as if in anticipation of a nation dismayed at their own lack of self control, other research has just been released into the reasons why we’re all so useless when it comes to dieting. The results are damning, if unsurprising.
According to a study commissioned by British rice manufacturers Tilda, around 50% of people already plan to pack in their commitments to healthy eating because they find healthy food boring. The research reveals that approximately 30% of people believe that “just the perception that healthy food is boring has stopped them from eating as well as they could.” To make matters worse, the average diet apparently “lasts less than three months before dieters revert back to their old ways,” with “three in 10...sick of eating healthily within the first month.”
Perhaps what’s most interesting about Tilda’s depressing new research is that it isn’t just the flavour of so-called “healthy food” that is putting people off. What many diners most miss about their old, delicious approach to eating is the stimulation of all their senses, rather than just one. The study found that “a third miss the smell of unhealthy meals when they are in the midst of a health kick,” while “one in eight thinks junk food has a better texture than any leafy greens.”
Commenting on the findings, nutritionist, cookery writer and Tilda partner Rob Hobson stated that, “It’s clear from the research that our senses have a huge role to play in the food choices we make. We seek great tasting flavour, appearance, smell and texture in our food but it is clear we reach to unhealthy foods such as the flavour of chocolate and the crunch of crisps to satisfy these needs as the perception of healthy dishes hitting a multi-sensory note is more difficult to achieve.”
Despite the doom and gloom, there might be a few positive takeaways for anyone looking to make lasting change. From this new study, it’s clear that a successful diet should look to tick every sensory box, rather than trying to concentrate on just one or two. If you can create healthy dishes that also smell amazing, you stand a much better change of resisting the slow sizzle of a frying pan full of bacon. At the end of the day, eating is about much more than what you put in your mouth.