I’ve been thinking a lot about quality versus quantity. In our super-size cultures, the emphasis seems to have turned away from quality and towards the apparent value of more for your money. Obviously, it fools a lot of people because, well, you are getting more. The question boils down to this: Is getting more better? I used to think so, but now I’m inclined to think not.
The reason that I no longer buy into the idea that quantity can make up for quality is that no matter how much you get, if the quality isn’t there, you’re simply going to wind up not feeling satisfied. The reasons for this are many. So, let’s look at a few of the issues.
There’s no question about it, the nutritional value of high-quality food is higher and richer than in low-quality food. In my opinion, high-quality food is defined by its wholeness and its preparation with few or no processed or artificial ingredients. In the nutrient-rich meal, one experiences a sense of satisfaction that comes even before fullness. I’ve come to understand that this happens when the body recognizes it’s getting adequate vitamins and nutrients from the meal. When this happens, there’s a greater tendency to put down your fork. You eat less, all while nutritionally benefiting more from what you’ve eaten.
The ramifications of this are pretty staggering. From the perspective of nutrition, typical processed foods are grossly lacking. We naturally sense this and try to make up for it by eating more. Unfortunately, the calorie load in such foods tends to be tremendously high. With the combination of low nutritional value and high caloric content, we’re nailed with the double-whammy of obesity and malnutrition over the long term.
Malnutrition is not typically considered to be a part of New World culture, but it is constantly expressed in the metabolic imbalances that cause such things as gout, diabetes, obesity and allergies. When the body is malnourished, it cannot maintain its systems correctly, and one of the first to go is intercellular communication – our hormones. Once our hormones stop signalling correctly, or if we no longer sense the signals properly, it isn’t long before sickness and disease take hold.
Conversely, that high-quality, whole (and preferably organic) food packs such a nutrient-dense punch that our bodies are easily capable of maintaining their equilibrium. When our hormones are in balance and our cells are receptive to the signals received, everything works like a well-tuned engine. This includes fuel economy. Best of all, that engine could be housed in a taught sports car instead of a lumbering SUV.
The issue of quality versus quantity reaches down even into the world of junk food. While I’m not about to encourage anybody to go out and eat stuff that’s not good for you, the bottom line is that if you’re going to eat desserts, make them the best you possibly can, and then take the time to savour the experience.
When you engage in a few mouthfuls of, say, exquisite dark chocolate and really take the time to enjoy the experience, your satisfaction level kicks in nice and quickly. This leaves you with the opportunity to wind down your bitter chocolate extravaganza with a swig of black coffee. (Trust me, the flavours are wonderfully complementary.) If you’re instead cracking open a bag of cheap, chocolate chip cookies, the tendency towards binge eating increases substantially.
The idea, ultimately, is that whatever you eat, even if it’s junk food, should be of the highest quality possible. Eat slowly and savour the moment. When the food is overwhelming your senses with its texture and taste, you end up satisfied. Combine better nutritional value with lower calories and greater satisfaction and you win, win, win!