In the 1970's, researchers fed two groups of women, one Swedish and one Thai, a spicy Thai meal. The Thai women — who presumably liked the meal more than the Swedish women did — absorbed almost 50 percent more iron from it than the Swedish women. When the meal was served as a mushy paste, the Thai women absorbed 70 percent less iron than they had before — from the same food.Perhaps doing what you enjoy -- not just with respect to food but everything -- is the key to all sorts of physical benefits. We can get so abstemious and puritanical about our bodies. Food, exercise, sex -- we make all these things into health prescriptions. But what if the benefits only flow when you are doing what you really enjoy? Then the health secret would be to ignore all the nannies who chide you to follow instructions and open your mind to its own information about what you love. It may not be that easy to do, because you've been infected by years of advice about what you should like, what is considered good. How will I know what I love? How will I know that it's not just what I think I'm supposed to love?
The researchers concluded that food that's unfamiliar (Thai food to Swedish women) or unappetizing (mush rather than solid food) winds up being less nutritious than food that looks, smells and tastes good to you. The explanation can be found in the digestive process itself, in the relationship between the "second brain" — the gut — and the brain in your head.
Am I the nanny now? Maybe you think I'm just giving you one more instruction, and it sounds like that most horrifying parental order: You'll do it and you'll like it. If we have have to like it too, won't it only be harder? Well, yes, it will be harder. It's much easier to follow the rules. Since it's harder, you can feel virtuous as you follow the old hippie advice: If it feels good, do it.