Researchers at Vanderbilt University in the US have discovered what they call a "taste-health balance point" in a series of experiments, suggesting that suppressing devilish cravings for delicious but unhealthy foods will only ever be temporary.
Instead, they say, those who strive for healthy living will have more luck adhering to a nutritional regimen that takes into account the proportion of vice and virtue, emphasizing virtue and accepting vice in moderation.
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The solution "can help consumers who would otherwise choose vice over virtue to simultaneously increase consumption of healthy foods (virtues) and decrease consumption of unhealthy foods (vices) while still fulfilling taste goals: 'Vice-virtue bundles,'" says Kelly L Haws, associate professor of management at Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management.
The experimentation process indicated that most people can be satisfied on a diet in which between one quarter and one half of the foods they eat are sinful, examples of which include French fries and doughnuts.
According to their paper, participants given meals adhering to "vice-virtue bundles" proportions found them equally tasty as meals of which three quarters consisted of vice foods.
Dieters should aim to increase portions of virtuous foods such as fruits and will likely find themselves satisfied with reduced portions of calorie-laden fare, according to the researchers.