The Mayo Clinic Diet blog

Make your diet a journey through healthy foods

By Donald Hensrud, M.D. February 5, 2010

Last time, we discussed the importance of attitude when beginning weight loss and mentioned a journey around the world of healthy ethnic foods. My wife and I have been on a similar journey over the years ... a salad journey.

Yes, I know that sounds funny, but we have periodically tried different types of salads. Years ago, it was mixed greens with toasted sliced almonds, a small amount of smoked Gouda cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette. For a while, we enjoyed a spinach salad with sunflower seeds, whole wheat croutons, and a small amount of hot olive oil. Then an eggless Caesar salad (she makes a great one), followed by mixed baby greens with a small amount of sunflower seeds, parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Our staple has always been a Greek salad — with a whole grain baguette and smoked salmon it's often our dinner (and I can eat large amounts of the veggies based on the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid!).

Why is this relevant?

  • It shows how our taste preferences change over time and we can learn to like new foods. Thank goodness for that. I've often felt sorry for our cat; it generally eats the same food day in and day out (but surprisingly seems to look forward to meal time).
  • It shows just a few of the many variations that are possible in just one type of food. Most of us develop a core group of recipes and meals that we eat every week or two. We get used to making these foods and it becomes quick and easy. This can turn into a 'recipe rut'. To break out of this rut, it's necessary to either try new recipes or modify old ones. The work and effort in this is in the planning and preparation. Once you make a new dish a couple of times, it becomes part of your new routine.
  • It shows how healthy food can also taste good (you may have to trust me a little here). All of these salads have used either vegetables or generous amounts of greens — such as spinach, red leaf lettuce, romaine, mixed baby greens and my favorite, arugula. Higher calorie foods aren't avoided, but used in smaller amounts to provide a lot of flavor. A little bit of toasted nuts and different types of flavorful cheese can go a long way.

We all may have slightly different taste preferences, and you may not like all the salads above, but you get the picture. I hope you have similar enjoyable journeys, salad or otherwise. Please share your experiences.

Feb. 05, 2010