Many people think a nutritious diet means restricting what you eat to a simple, boring menu. In fact, adventurous eaters —yes, those kale-loving, eel-munching foodies — tend to have lower BMIs and an overall healthier lifestyle, new research shows.
Adding a new food to your plate once every couple of weeks can bring you some unexpected benefits, says Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, author of "Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life."
The simple act of being more thoughtful about one thing on your plate — you don’t have to plan an elaborate meal — can make you less likely to overindulge. Being adventurous primes people to think of eating as a conscious practice.
The Cornell researchers characterized a foodie as a person who will try and eat at least nine of 16 different foods more than once, including: kale, seitan, quinoa, seaweed, bean sprouts, beef tongue, eel, quail eggs, rabbit, kimchi, tempeh, venison, polenta, liver, raw oysters, and pork belly.
People don’t need to nosh on sea urchin and crickets daily to see positive results: even swapping iceberg lettuce for romaine is expanding your dietary boundaries. Adding new foods into a meal once or twice a month “shakes things up a little bit,” says Wansink. “Just do it on occasion.”
If you’re not interested in an exotic culinary adventure, there’s another small change that can positively affect your eating habits, and it doesn’t cost a cent: sit down.
“Put your ass in the chair when you eat,” says Leslie Bonci, owner of Active Eating Advice. “When you do that, you are much more in tune with what you are doing because you are paying more attention to what you are eating.”
People who eat while sitting — without watching TV, checking their phones, or working on their computers or tablets — take longer to eat and enjoy what they are eating. The longer people take to eat, the less they eat. Like foodies, people who sit to eat pay more attention to what they consume.
“So many times people have overly complicated things they do when they are making [dietary] changes,” she says. “Everything doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.”